HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A school scuffle spreads like wildfire on social media. Several WHNT News 19 viewers alerted us to a video captured on a student cell phone at Meridianville Middle School. It was posted on Facebook and immediately prompted questions and concerns from parents about bullying.
WHNT News 19 is Taking Action to get answers about this and other recent incidents involving Madison County students.
We sat down with Dr. David Copeland, Superintendent of Madison County Schools. He said they take every incident seriously.
“Bullying and any type of intolerance is just not taken lightly and we take it very seriously and we’ll do what we have to do,” said Dr. Copeland.
That includes bringing in the Madison County Sheriff’s Office to investigate when needed.
“We believe that the safety of our children is number one in all areas,” said Dr. Copeland.
Social media has opened a whole new can of worms when it comes to what’s happening in our world. Sometimes it takes just one Tweet or Facebook post for something to get out of hand.
“It doesn’t take much to post something and it goes viral,” said Copeland. “And the next thing you know, you’ve got a situation on your hands and I’m not saying it’s all bad. It’s just the situation schools have to deal with.”
The superintendent wants parents to know his office and administrators look into every report and act immediately.
“We don’t wait on that because of the seriousness involved and we don’t stop an investigation until we feel very comfortable we’ve done everything we can to get to the bottom of it and resolve if there’s an issue to resolve that issue,” Copeland said.
And for those who feel administrators sometimes try to keep things quiet, the superintendent had this to say.
“I can assure you that we don’t sweep anything under the rug,” said Dr. Copeland. “If it deals with children of any age, we take it very seriously, certainly.”
While the superintendent couldn’t talk specifically about the incident at Meridianville Middle School, he did say administrators issued appropriate and quick discipline. We also asked him about the recent suicide of a Madison County High School student and whether bullying was to blame.
Copeland told WHNT News 19, “That was a horrific situation that for anyone to get to that point but we thoroughly investigated and I know the principal and the deputies interviewed for days out there.”
Copeland says there was no evidence of bullying in that case. He added, “What we have to deal with and get to the bottom of is truth. That’s what we want. We want to get down to what’s actually happening and not what hearsay is.”
Copeland says help for any student is as close as a computer. If they’re having a problem, they can report it anonymously on a hotline listed on the school system’s website. “We want our kids to know that we certainly have their best interest at heart and we’re going to listen to anything,” said Copeland.
Superintendent Copeland encourages kids to talk to their teachers and their principals. He says his goal as superintendent is to have the very best safety plan in the country and never have to use it.