Branford mother alleges bullying at middle school

An example of students cyberbullying classmates on social media. (WTNH / Report-It)

BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Melissa Virostko removed her 12-year-old daughter from school after she says the bullying at Francis Walsh Intermediate got worse.

“Every day she was told to commit suicide. Every day she went and hid in the bathroom,” Virostko said. “She was being bullied verbally, telling her to commit suicide. They said it’s the only was that they would get rid of her.”

Melissa says it escalated to cyber bullying. Her daughter’s photo was taken in class and then posted on Snapchat.

“They took a picture of her while she was working in class and the caption said, ‘Lol we kicked her off our table because she has no friends.'”

Melissa said for months she contacted the Board of Education, from the principal all the way up to the school superintendent. When nothing came of it, she transferred her to another school district.

This story got News 8 looking at what works to combat bullying. At Carrigan Middle School in West Haven, they have classes to prevent bullying and a day unity where the entire school wears orange.

Assistant Principal at Carrigan School Rich Weber said, “The idea of wearing orange, it’s a unique day where you look around and all of a sudden as different as we all are even though we are wearing this bright crazy color we are all together in this.” The school also has an open door policy.

2017 05 08 unity day 2 Branford mother alleges bullying at middle school
Unity Day staff at West Haven High School (Contributed Photo)

Weber added, “They can come knock on my door or the guidance counselors door or another entrusted adult in the building and say, ‘I just need to talk to you’. The vice principal said they try to create a family environment. Weber said, “You deal with every problem, every issue, every call as if it were your own child.”

2017 05 08 unity day 3 Branford mother alleges bullying at middle school
Unity Day staff at West Haven High School (Contributed Photo)

Branford Public Schools sent the following statement:

“The safety and well being of each and every one of our students is of paramount concern. As a school district, we do not and will not tolerate inappropriate conduct toward any of our students. When we become aware of any claim that inappropriate conduct is occurring or has occurred, we take the claim very seriously, and we investigate it properly and thoroughly. If we find after an investigation that any student has in fact been treated inappropriately, we take appropriate action to address the matter promptly, based on the circumstances of the situation at hand.

In each situation, our goal is to provide for the well-being of all of our students, to educate students about the inappropriateness and harmfulness of improper conduct, and to prevent recurrences of inappropriate conduct.”

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