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Parents of Bullied Student Speak Out at School Board Meeting

Randall and Karla Kinney said they don't think John Rosi should be allowed back in the classroom. They also said they taught their son to put on a strong face to deal with bullying at school.

The parents of spoke at the Peninsula School Board meeting Thursday night.

“I do not agree that Mr. Rosi should be allowed back in the classroom in light of his inability to recognize this not just as simple classroom mismanagement but endangerment of a child,” said Randall Kinney, who attended the meeting with his wife Karla.

Last week, the couple released a cell phone video that caught attention of local and national news organizations. The video shows their then eighth-grader being held down and harassed by his classmates and Rosi.

The Kinneys said it took them two weeks to view the video.

“We were not informed by the school that what happened to [our son] in Mr. Rosi’s class was bullying. We learned through text messages and calls from concerned parents who saw the videos,” Randall Kinney said.

However, acting Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto said the incident was never reported or characterized by any involved students, parents or staff as harassment, intimidation or bullying complaint.

Prior to taking public comments at the meeting, Cuzzetto and the school board briefed the attendees on the timeline of the incident and the disciplinary actions taken by the District.

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Here’s the timeline of events:

Thursday, Feb. 2: A group of students were watching cell phone videos of the incident. Those students were immediately sent to Principal Iva Scott’s office at The principal downloaded the videos to her computer and had the students erase the videos on their phones. Principal Scott contacted Academic Officer Dan Gregory, who informed then-Superintendent Terry Bouck. Rosi was placed on immediate administrative leave. Principal Scott also contacted Karla Kinney to set up a meeting the following day.

Friday, Feb. 3: Karla Kinney canceled the meeting. The district contacted an outside investigator.

Monday, Feb. 6: Karla Kinney met with Principal Scott about the incident. On the same day, the principals at Kopachuck Middle School visited the classrooms to talk to the students about acceptable behavior in classrooms. There were no discussions on placing blame on the incident.

Thursday, Feb. 9: The principal sent a letter home to all parents of the classroom notifying the incident. The outside investigation started.

Thursday, April 26: Based on the final recommendations by the legal counsel, Rosi was placed on a 10-day suspension without pay and signed a Last Chance Agreement, which removed him from Kopachuck until the end of the 2013 school year. It also required Rosi to complete a classroom-management training. If Rosi engaged in any future misconduct related to supervision of students before Aug. 31, 2013, the District could terminate his contract.

Summer of 2012: Rosi was transferred to teach math at for the 2012-2013 school year.

Thursday, Aug. 30: Rosi was placed on pending outcome of the investigation.

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One parent, who also teaches at , was one of the two speakers at the meeting. She said her daughter had Rosi as a teacher at Kopachuck.

“As a parent, I’m very upset to hear about this almost half a year after the incident happened,” she said.

After the story came out in the news, she said she talked to her daughter about having Rosi as a teacher.

“She said things about girls throwing shoes at [Rosi], and him running around the school chasing students; students taping him to a chair and pushing him out in the commons and other teachers coming and taping his mouth shut with duct tape,” she said.

“As a parent, the fact that that’s going on at the middle school is upsetting to me. That it’s not just about him in the classrooms, but what kind of climate do we have in the middle school where that’s apparently okay to have going on?” she said.

As a teacher, she said she was let down not only by Rosi, but by the rest of the staff at Kopachuck Middle School.

“I’m not only responsible for the kids in my classroom. I’m responsible for everybody’s kids. If I hear something that doesn’t make sense to me, it’s something that we have to do something about,” she said.

“There has been a great deal of public commentary regarding this matter,” said School Board President Jill Uddenberg. “I ask that we refrain from rushing to judgment and taking sides. As with any disciplinary investigation, the employee in question is entitled to a fair and objective investigation prior to the recommended action. The is also fully cooperating with the Sheriff’s investigation and awaiting the outcome.”

While Rosi did not attend the school board meeting, his lawyer Bryan Hershman did issue a request for supporters to speak up in favor of Rosi this week.

“Over the past week, Mr Rosi’s name has been smeared in the press, both locally and nationally… Those of us who are familiar with Mr. Rosi, know that this video in no way typifies the outstanding teacher and coach we have come to know and respect. Moreover, based on my initial investigation, those who witnessed this event know that this video is being taken out of context,” wrote Hershman.

At the time of the incident, Rosi stated that he did not mean to harm his students and had perceived the incident as “horseplay”.

In addition, defended Rosi by claiming that the teen instigated the incident. ABC News also reported that the child could be heard saying in the video, "Yeah do that … do what Eric's doing, not my arm."

However, Randall Kinney said his son was doing what he was taught by his father.

“Many will judge by that video what has happened to our family. It characterizes his lack of reaction as endorsement for the activities that were done to him,” he said.

When the Kinneys learned about their son experiencing bullying at school, Randall Kinney said he coached his son on how to react to bullying and how to prevent it by not being a target—an advice he regrets today.

“What a bully wants is a reaction from a child,” he recalled telling his son. “Put on a strong face, son. No matter how hard it hurts, don’t cry or you’ll only magnify the situation.”

“If they hit you, smile and walk away. Cry in private,” he added. “And that was terrible advice.”

In the meantime, Uddenberg said the District is organizing parent-family meetings at the three schools impacted by the incident: Kopachuck, Peninsula and Harbor Ridge.

Randall Kinney said his son, who now attends a private school, is doing better thanks to the strength of his mother and the professional counsel.

“We are fortunate to have a wonderful doctor tending to his care and guiding us as parents,” he said.

Ron Johnson September 09, 2012 at 04:45 PM
They should string Rossi up by the balls.
Ann Adams December 09, 2012 at 07:48 AM
Your response is concerning.
Ann Adams December 09, 2012 at 07:51 AM
Chair piling, kicking, passing wind on a child....none of this is concerning or should have disturbed the child? I would not want any child in that situation.
Ann Adams December 09, 2012 at 07:55 AM
Your statement is concerning-again.
C December 12, 2012 at 06:39 AM
Peninsula School District has repeatedly allowed children to be harmed by adults in the District, leaving parents no recourse. The usual response the District gives while they do nothing to protect our children is something along the lines of, we can't move that person to a different position because it violates our Union Contracts. So, yes, in my opinion, getting the media involved is essential if you want to resolve the situation.

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