Cooperstown parent: students bullied, harassed all the time

By By PAT BAILEY

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. (WKTV) - A mother in the Cooperstown school district says that the district is known, among students, as a place where harassment and bullying often take place.    

Police have yet to identify the shooter or the victim following Friday's shooting in Cooperstown. Both were high school students.

Police say on Friday a white Cooperstown High School student chased a black student down the street and shot him. The shooter then shot himself. Both were taken to Bassett Healthcare.

Monday the mother of a Black student in the district, said harassment is a common thing and that it's not always about race. She wishes to remain anonymous. She and her daughter were shocked to hear of the shooting on Friday between two other students.

"She kept asking, saying 'Hey mom if there was school today do you think this would have happened in the school?  She didn't want to go back to Cooperstown," the mother said. "She thinks it will happen to the whole school."

The mother says her daughter and other students who "do not fit in", for whatever reason, are often bullied and harassed at school.   

"If your not a doctors kid, a lawyers kid, good in sports, or good in school you are picked on numerously," she said. "All the time, all the kids to everybody else, they are all saying it. White, Black, Puerto Rican anything, your picked on."

As much as there is a social divide, often there is a racial divide, said the mother. She says it is something she and her daughter have experienced.

"I was a senior in high school and I was constantly called a 'n****r lover' because they found out I was pregnant by an African American," she said.  "The same thing, my daughter is called a n****r all the time."

In response to the claims of bullying and racial tension in the school district, Cooperstown Superintendent, Mary Jo A. McPhail says she has never heard of any racial complaints before Friday.
    
"We were totally shocked by Friday's events," McPhail said. "There have been no prior indications of racial problems at our school."

According to Otsego County District Attorney, John Muehl, it's just a matter of time before charges are filed. Muehl says charges, against the alleged shooter, are "definitely coming".

The New York Civil Liberties Union offered this statement on the matter:

"Bullying is a serious problem with serious consequences across New York State.  It is based on many different characteristics, including race, ethnicity, religion, weight, gender expression and perceived sexual orientation.

The NYCLU  is supporting a bill in Albany called the "dignity for all students act."  It would require teachers and staff to receive regular training on how to properly address harassment and discrimination.

 

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