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Bullying prompts parents to pull kids from school

Andrew Foell pulled his son, who has Asperger's syndrome, out of Friedell Middle School because of the verbal bullying his son endured. "I took him to see the movie 'Bully' and I think that was sort of an eye opener," Foell said.

Jon is a 13-year-old boy who no longer dreads going to school.

His fears of being bullied, of being tripped or cuffed by other classmates, of being treated like an outsider, have largely subsided. So have his nightmares.

What ended his ordeal was his parents' decision to pull him from the Kasson-Mantorville school district — where he had endured what he and his mom say was near-constant teasing and harassment — and enroll him at Holy Spirit School in northwest Rochester.

Andrew Foell took a similar course when confronted with evidence that his son was being bullied. He decided to have his son home-schooled after withdrawing him from Friedell Middle School.

Both cases are very different. Foell's son has Asperger's syndrome, a condition that his dad says made him a target of teasing remarks. Patti's son, Jon, was a regular kid whose mother still wonders why he was targeted.


Yet the cases offer overlapping narratives. Both parents faced challenges in trying to piece together exactly what was happening to their children. In both cases, the parents felt that their schools could have been more vigilant in protecting their children from bullying behavior. And both, in the end, opted for the same solution — pulling their children from public schools.

"It certainly is a heartbreaking thing," Foell said. "You want to step in and just make it stop."

Both parents related their experiences recently after two students, one from Kasson-Mantorville and the other from Rochester's Century High School, committed suicide within the last month. The parents of both students said they had been bullied.

As bullying's emotional costs — and sometimes deadly consequences — have become more evident, schools and political leaders are feeling the heat to be more proactive. A task force headed by Gov. Mark Dayton is looking for solutions, but for a few parents driven to desperate straits, the only option is transfer or remove their children from school.

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