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Parents, students rally behind bullied teacher

By LEXIE O'CONNOR

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Rome Free Academy English teacher spoke to Rome's School Board Wednesday night asking for change after she says she was bullied by one of her students. It sparked over a dozen parents and teachers also speaking to the board asking for increased discipline for bullies.

"He threatened my life in class. First, he started by saying when I got back from a week out, he said 'I know you've been sick, I hope that you're sick now, and I hope you die soon and the sooner the better,'" said Maria Fulgieri and English teacher at RFA.

While the student was removed from Ms. Fulgieri's class, she says in five days he was back in the classroom. When he began approaching her with profanities and threats and having no luck reaching security, Fulgieri had another teacher watch her class while she went to get the assistant principal, fearing that she and her class was in danger.

"In the meantime, when I was gone, I don't find out until two days later that when I left the room and that teacher was coming in, he told the students he 'was going to vandalize the room, I should die, he'll be the one to do it, he's going to run me over with a car, he was going to urinate on my desk and damage things in the classroom,'" said Fulgieri.

While the student has been moved to another class, the teacher of 25 years feels the discipline for bullies or those who intimidate, such as the student in question, is not enough, and that it's far from an isolated incident.

Over a dozen students and parents spoke emotionally to the school about how they've been affected or have seen bullying in the schools.

"This happens day to day. You talk to anybody and you see they're struggling with this. I think it's way more common than people make it out to be," said Abigail Williams, a 10th grader at RFA.

"It would be wrong of me not to say anything," said Aliza Escobar, also a 10th grader at RFA. "People, day to day, are being bullied and I see it and I'm mad at myself for not saying anything. But doing this, I'm doing what's right."

Their message to the school board - the schools need to do more when they hear of bullying, whether it's from a student, parent, or teacher.

Rome Schools Superintendent Jeffrey Simons addressed the speakers at the meeting, saying he would like to meet with them to hear about the specifics of the stories, specifics that couldn't be shared in the public session.

Some board members also said that they hope to review the stories and respond as a board to the bullying at their next board meeting.

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