Father responds to son’s ordeal

Published 9:06 am Thursday, April 2, 2009

WINDSOR – The father of a 15-year-old boy who was left stranded at a Windsor convenience store by three Bertie County Schools teachers wants more than an apology.

In an interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Wednesday morning, Jerry Spivey of Hexlena said he wanted more than an apology and also wanted to give more information about the incident which happened last Thursday.

“I feel like they were wrong,” said Spivey. “They say it, but an apology isn’t enough. Suppose I had done it to one of their children?”

Spivey’s son was reportedly left at the Duck Thru at the end of County Farm Road in Windsor after an altercation on a bus which was returning from a field trip. Spivey admitted his son was in a fight on the bus, but said the fight certainly didn’t warrant being put off the bus.

Spivey said his son knew the fight wasn’t right and expected to be punished, but never expected to be put off the bus.

“Putting him off the bus shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “It shouldn’t have happened to my child or any child.”

While Spivey agreed with some of the information provided in Tuesday’s edition of the News-Herald from an investigation conducted by Bertie County Schools, he disagreed with the amount of time his son was left alone.

“I live in Hexlena and I had told my son to call and let me know when they got close (to the school),” Spivey said. “He called my daughter at 5 o’clock and said he was at the Shell station. I don’t believe he had been put off the bus at that time.”

Spivey said he went to Bertie Middle School, a trip he estimated at 30 minutes, then waited 10 minutes for the bus to arrive and another 10 minutes for them to unload.

When he didn’t see his son getting off the bus, Spivey said he went and asked where the child was.

“They said another teacher was bringing him so I waited 10 or 15 more minutes for that car to get there,” Spivey said. “When the teacher got there, my son wasn’t with her either.”

Spivey agreed with the school district investigation that a staff member from Bertie Middle went to pick up his son. He said his son was finally returned to his care at approximately 6:10 p.m.

“I don’t see any way he was there alone for just 30 minutes,” Spivey insisted. “It had to be closer to an hour.”

Spivey was also concerned with the reaction of those at the middle school once his son was returned unharmed.

“I felt like they were more interested in his punishment than they were in him being left,” Spivey said. “There was an apology and they said they were sorry it happened, but they were more concerned about suspending him.”

Spivey’s son was suspended from school for the fight that occurred on the bus and will return to school today (Thursday).

Three teachers have also been suspended by the school system in response to the incident. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Chip Zullinger confirmed the teachers were suspended multiple days, but couldn’t confirm how long due to personnel regulations.

Spivey said his son was not involved in the shadow-boxing incident that was reported in Tuesday’s edition and added that he didn’t know if the boy who was in the fight with his son was either.

“My son was listening to the iPod which was being passed around,” Spivey said. “The boy asked him for it and my son said he would give it to him after he finished a song. When he gave the boy the iPod, the boy said, ‘I ought to hit you’ and my son said ‘go ahead.’”

Spivey said the fight ensued and then his son was put off the bus.

“The teacher came out of the store and asked him why he was there and he told her he was put off the bus,” Spivey said. “She got in the car and left him there.”

Spivey said his son had no way of contacting anyone because he didn’t have a cellular phone and had used the money he had been given while on the field trip.

The boy has attended Bertie County Schools his entire life, Spivey added, and had not been a problem student.

“He’s not a trouble-maker,” Spivey said. “He got in an incident. He has a disability, but they should have known better.”

The father also said he believed laws had been broken, though he wasn’t sure which ones.

“I don’t know the law. I don’t know what could be done,” he said. “I know if I broke the law what would happen to me.”

Spivey said he knew animals couldn’t be dropped off on their own without breaking a law and felt it would be much stronger for a child.

“I’m trying to do this the right way,” he said. “He’s humiliated and now he has to go back to school to face the same teachers.”

Spivey said he hoped the teachers would be professional about the situation.

He also insisted he wanted to hear more from the school system.

“I didn’t know some of this stuff until I read it here,” Spivey said holding up a copy of the newspaper. “I think they should get in contact with me. They have my phone number. If they want to talk, I’ll be glad to talk.”