Mobile County school superintendent Martha Peek has responded to fresh complaints about the safety of students at Semmes Middle School, saying that "our work continues and things are progressing in an orderly manner."
In the latest incident at Semmes Middle School, video shows two boys punching and kicking a third as he lies on the ground.
A viral video showing aggressive bullying of a student drew attention to the school in November, prompting intervention by Peek and other Mobile County Public School System employees. A fresh incident occurred Monday. In that case, a short video clip showed a boy being kicked and punched by two others while lying on the ground. The boy's mother has complained that school officials have not taken sufficient action, and the husband of a school custodian has alleged that she was suspended after bringing the video to administrators' attention.
In a statement relayed Wednesday evening by the school system's director of communications, Rena Philips, Peek said:
"Our work continues at Semmes Middle School and things are progressing in an orderly manner. That includes throughout the school as well as within the classrooms with teaching and learning.
"There have been some discipline issues - as would be the case in any middle school setting - but they have been addressed promptly and in compliance with the Mobile County Public Schools Code of Conduct.
"Parents of the student involved have been informed and involved. Due to student confidentiality laws, we cannot share information about specific disciplinary actions that have been taken against individuals, but we certainly are addressing these issues appropriately and in accordance with our policies.
"If anyone has concerns about the school, they should contact the school."
Semmes Middle School bullying: 'This was flat-out assault,' parent says of attack on child
Meanwhile, Marcus Little said that he and his wife, Danielle Little, had hired a law firm to represent her. Marcus Little has said that his wife has several years of experience at Semmes Middle School as a cafeteria worker and custodian. When she brought the latest bullying video to school administrators they showed great interest, he said, but later informed her that she was being put on administrative leave.
Marcus Little has said he believes the move was made in retaliation for showing or sharing the video. Philips said that a staff member was disciplined, but it was not because the person showed a video to an administrator. Beyond that, she said, it was a personnel issue and the system would not comment in more detail.
"The fact that they're trying to say she was not put on leave because she showed them the video, that is a lie," Marcus Little said when contacted Wednesday afternoon."
"I'm not some quack looking for his five minutes of fame," he said via Facebook later in the day. "I am a FATHER and a HUSBAND that refuses to stand idle by while the school board allows our schools to tear itself apart, and use my wife as a scape goat to pressure other's into being quiet. Hopefully our stand will prove as an example to other's to stand up, step forward, and speak the truth."