a one punishment fits every crime attitute in the government run public schools


Students dispute friend's penalty

Ray Parker The Arizona Republic Feb. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

A Gilbert Junior High eighth-grader who defended two girls has been booted from school, even after his classmates collected 452 student signatures representing half of the student body on petitions pleading for leniency.

After being rebuffed at one meeting, the girls say they will be back the next time the Gilbert Public Schools governing board meets.

Cody Bergevin, 15, came to the rescue of Chelsea Linden, 13, and another 13-year-old after they said a bully threatened to cut the girls' throats during a basketball game.

A school administrator came upon the scene just as the other boy pushed Bergevin.

Because Bergevin had been on probation for previous misconduct, he was forced to enroll in a district alternative school, even though the boy who made the threats was allowed to stay in school, according to Michelle Bergevin, Cody's mother.

She believes her son did the right thing by sticking up for his friends and said she's upset with the way Principal Kevin Rainey handled her son's situation.

"I'm very, very, very concerned for other children at the school," Bergevin said. "(The other boy) threatened to cut their throats. In this day and age, this should be taken seriously and investigated."

Rainey would not comment, but district spokeswoman Dianne Bowers said the district's bullying policy requires school officials to investigate threats and report them to the school resource officer.

Gilbert Junior High educators also have been undergoing training as part of a national bully-prevention program, the Olweus Bullying Program.

"The district is pro-active," Bowers said.

But Deann Bonaventura, Chelsea's mother, disagreed.

"They don't take threats seriously at that school," Bonaventura said. "Chelsea told them about this boy's threats, threatening to cut throats, and nothing was done."

Cody, Chelsea and the other girl who was threatened attended a recent Gilbert school board meeting with the petitions in hand, but because they did not know the procedure for speaking at the meeting, they were not allowed to present their case.

They left disappointed but not defeated.

"They're just waiting to present their case," said Michelle Bergevin, adding that the teen trio would try again when the Gilbert Governing Board meets Feb. 14.

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