Target: Principal Hugh Piatt of James Earl Rudder High School, Bryan, Texas
Goal: Honor high school student’s efforts to prevent bullying
At James Earl Rudder High School, when a special education student was being bullied by a group of other students, one young man bravely chose to stand up to his peers and tell them to stop. His reward was a two-day suspension from school.
Christian Tumax, an 18-year-old student at the high school, says he understands that the school administration was just doing their jobs because a video of the incident suggests that Tumax was acting aggressively. However, many student witnesses support the story that Tumax was merely trying to help his friend and schoolmate.
In an interview with local news, it is clear that Tumax believes he did the right thing. “My message is, go out and help somebody,” he said. “If you see it, don’t hesitate, don’t be scared. We’re all human, we all need help, and we all have demons that we’re fighting with.”
That message is an important one that all students in all grade levels should know. However, because Tumax was the only person to be punished, many parents and students view the incident as hypocritical and a tacit endorsement of bullying. Even though the suspension will not appear on Tumax’s permanent record, more must be done to honor this young man’s choice. Students at Rudder High School and beyond should be inspired by Tumax’s actions.
To reinforce the importance of combating bullying, the school should ask for student testimony and punish those in the wrong. Furthermore, the principal should release a statement admitting to wrongly punishing Tumax and committing the school to combating bullying in the future. Sign the petition to call for justice and an end to the tacit allowance of bullying.
Dear Principal Hugh Piatt,
Christian Tumax’s actions in standing up for a student being bullied were laudable. Preventing bullying is a mutual responsibility and he took it upon himself to take care of the bullied student when teachers were reportedly doing nothing. It is good that the suspension does not show on his permanent record. Nevertheless, if your school’s goal is to stop bullying, then more must be done.
First, your administrative staff should ask for student testimony and investigate the incident so that those who were actually bullying the special education student are punished. This is just, and shows other students that your school has zero-tolerance for bullying.
Second, you, as principal, should release a statement in which you recommit the school to removing bullying from your halls. In said statement, you should honor the actions of Christian Tumax and set him as an example for other students to follow.
I urge you to do this immediately as other Texas schools can learn from your example.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Diego Grez via Wikimedia Commons