SCHOOLS

Mother of autistic boy levels charges of bullying at Malverne school

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Bullies at the Malverne middle school have kicked, taunted, chased and harassed autistic eighth-grader Joel Luna Menjivar, according to his mother, Ana, who called the Herald in a desperate attempt to get help.

School administrators have given Luna Menjivar plenty of lip service, but taken little to no corrective action, said the Guatemala native, who is not a fluent English speaker. She said the problem has persisted throughout her son’s time in the middle school, but in recent months it has escalated. Two incidents in particular, both occurring in the Howard T. Herber Middle School cafeteria, stand out for her because they resulted in either physical injuries or trauma. In one case, she said, a student struck Joel in the face with a glass bottle and in another, a student tried to pull down his pants.

“He did not take it off … because Joel run away,” Luna Menjivar said, “but I don’t know where is the one-to-one [aide], where is the security, where is everybody, where is the teachers? For 20 or 25 minutes he [was] very scared.”

Joel speaks English well and can communicate at a relatively high level despite his autism, but he is still a special-needs student who has trouble socializing, his mother said, adding, “He is a good boy, he listens, he is respectful.” She praised the Malverne school district, its special education program and its teachers, who have helped her son achieve high grades. Joel is particularly gifted in math and takes an honors class. Luna Menjivar’s daughters, Angie, 11, and Giovanna, 8, also do well in school. But while the classrooms are safe places, Joel is subject to bullying in the hallways, the cafeteria, outside and after school, she said.

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  • jlee26

    I have lived through the same situation with my son, who is now 23. He too has Autism and experienced the same bullying when he was in high school. Rather than educate the student body, they just gave my son some "coping skills" which was of no use. He ultimately had a severe breakdown and I removed him from the school and put him in what I thought was a school that would protect him and address his special needs. That was not the case and he went from being a gifted student who enjoyed the challenges that high school brought him to a student that just got by on a day-to-day basis. Now he is a young adult who spends all of his time at home and unable to find a job. If I had it to do all over again, I would NOT have taken him out of the school, but maybe just tried a little harder to get the school to do what is right. Keep fighting for your son and insist that the school do what is right for HIM not for them!

    Thursday, January 19, 2012 Report this

  • lawman

    Bullying is Wrong !

    Thursday, January 19, 2012 Report this

  • lawman

    Bullying is Wrong !

    Thursday, January 19, 2012 Report this

  • Nick516

    The article states that "the district suggested taking Joel out of the typical school setting and putting him in a placement school instead." Joel is NOT the one with the problem. Why punish him?! I have a novel idea. How about we take those bullies out and put THEM in a special placement school. And for us taxpayers, how about we make the parents of those bullies PAY for their children's "special" placements too!

    Sunday, January 22, 2012 Report this

  • Aaron_J

    Being that I was in the middle school two years ago..and personally knowing this young man, it is really frustrating to me that this kind of stuff goes on. Situations like this never occurred when the class of 2014 was still there.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012 Report this

  • jlee26

    I agree with Nick516's comments. They should take the bullies out. They are the ones with the problems. They should make a 3 strikes rule for bullies. Three strikes and you're out! They put my son through hell just because he was different. He did NOT do anything wrong, other than be at the school. He will carry the hurt they inflicted upon him for the rest of his life. The school district cannot say that they did enough to help these kids. If they did, I don't believe that my son would be in the situation that he is in today. All he wanted to do was to get a good education and go about his business. He was NOT given that opportunity in their "special school." That makes me extremely angry, but it's too late now. All he can do is be his best whatever he does.

    Monday, January 23, 2012 Report this

  • Marilyn

    This is the most disturbing story! I cannot believe that in 2012 where bullying is being taken seriously, no one is

    addressing the ISSUE. The Teachers, Principals, Superintendents, Guidance Counsulars and the Board of Education should be more than ashamed of themselves. They should be held RESPONSIBLE! Every child should be safe in the school environment and everywhere for that matter. These people should be asked resign and be replaced by professionals who care.! By the way, where are the proud parents of these WONDERFULL young people who are doing the bullying????? MAKE THEM REPONSIBLE!!! What can I do to HELP!!

    Monday, January 30, 2012 Report this