Cobb school board candidate prepared to go to court over bullying

Cobb County Superior Court in article nine court employees test positive for COVID-19Cobb County Superior Court (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Attorney Robert Madayag is prepared to take the Cobb County School District to court if they don’t make changes to the bullying policy.

Madayag says CCSD doesn’t use the correct definition of bullying under the law when implementing training and investigations of bullying. In a letter dated Feb. 25 and addressed to Superintendent Chris Ragsdale and all members of the board, he wrote, “Should the CCSD fail to provide necessary documentation indicating that the CCSD is or will be in compliance with Georgia’s Anti-bullying Law, I intend to seek a court order through a writ of mandamus instructing the CCSD to come into compliance with the law.”

The letter also said he intends to ask the court to place all control of CCSD funding under the court’s supervision and control unless CCSD can demonstrate compliance. His demands include updating the county’s bullying literature, providing updated training to staff, and giving assurances that parents will be notified within one week of the results of any bullying investigation, complete with an explanation for the findings.

He points to one of the factors the county uses in determining whether an incident is bullying as particularly problematic. The county defines bullying as an action that occurs repeatedly, but according to Madayag, that is not written in the law. In the letter, he wrote, “this has allowed the CCSD to purposefully and systematically report false numbers to state and federal education authorities.”

After conducting a comparison of bullying statistics to surrounding counties, Madayag says the numbers in Cobb just don’t add up, citing a reported 46% drop in incidents the year after Ragsdale became superintendent in 2014. That percentage has continued to drop to a rate that is “significantly out of the norm both nationally and state-wide.” He says bullying incidents are downplayed with words like “horseplay,” and if a child acts in self defense, the county applies zero tolerance to punish the victim.

Bullying has long been a hot button issue for Madayag due to incidents with his daughter in a Cobb County school and hearing from other parents whose children were bullied after he became involved with the Jorge Santa case in 2018. It is one of the reasons he is challenging school board member David Banks for the Post 5 seat.

“Bullying is one aspect of why I am running…If it comes down to it, I will choose to maintain the fight against the district over my candidacy every time, without question,” he told the Courier.

When asked for comment on Madayag’s letter, a CCSD spokesperson said, “The facts about Cobb’s supports for students can be found here (http://cobbcast.cobbk12.org/?p=26780), we are particularly proud of the impact the Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program in particular has had on more than 40 schools in Cobb. We are confident our supports for students are in compliance with both policy and the law.”

Madayag said that if CCSD doesn’t make any changes he will sue.

“I intend to subpoena district officials at all levels and will be requesting documents through the power of the court. The district may choose to ignore parents and children, but it cannot choose to ignore a court,” he said.

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