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'Admit that you have a problem': Father of bullied 5th grader speaks at Omaha school board meeting

Last week, he said his son is bullied by students, and was cursed at by a cafeteria worker.
Posted at 5:50 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 18:50:13-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A week after motorcyclists showed their support to a fifth-grader with alopecia, the student's father showed up to an Omaha Public Schools board meeting to speak on bullying.

The student, Cohen Crawford, is bald. He has a condition that makes his body fight off hair follicles on his scalp. Cohen told 3 News Now he's always been bullied because of it.

But lately, Cohen "no longer trusts he can reach out to the adults at school for help when he needs it," his father, Casey Crawford, told the board.

Casey told 3 News Now last week that a cafeteria worker at Alice Buffett Magnet Middle School cursed at Cohen, withheld lunch and made fun of his condition. He said Cohen tried to speak to a counselor about it, but was brushed off.

"The person that mocked him told him that the reason he has no hair is that he got too much hot sauce," Casey told 3 News Now.

Learn more: Bikers support bullied Omaha 5th grader; Parents say cafeteria worker cursed at son, withheld lunch

That's in addition to the bullying Cohen faces from students, Casey said. "This bullying has progressed from teasing, pushing, to threats, to students following my son after school and throwing the contents of his backpack."

He said the school was "accommodating the bully" by moving Cohen to new classes, separating Cohen from friends he had made in the class. He said he and his wife have only received "defensiveness and lip service" from the school.

"I don't feel I should have to go to the lengths that I've gone to to get such a limited response," Casey told the board.

He urged the board to take the issue seriously.

"The reality is that some children kill themselves when they experience these traumas and see, through their school's lack of response, that nothing will change for them," he said.

He said his family was "overwhelmed" by the amount of support they received when sharing their story. He said it included teachers and staff at the school.

Casey asked the board to implement public policies and procedures on how bullying is handled in schools. He asked the district to create metrics that it would share online for each school.

3 News Now asked OPS to provide policies it has on bullying. A spokesperson provided this policy and the student code of conduct. The student code of conduct has a tiered system of interventions and responses to different types of misconduct.

"In addition to (those policies), our district’s Student and Community Services team works alongside families, community members and school personnel to address and resolve concerns," the spokesperson said in an email.

Watch Casey's full talk to the board below.

'Admit that you have a problem': Father of bullied 5th grader speaks at Omaha school board meeting

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