Student Cries Out Against Harassment, Bullying at School Committee Meeting

The Franklin Public Schools superintendent said all students are protected under the district's bullying prevention policy

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Franklin High School Senior Mackenzie Atwood’s outcry against harassment and bullying, captured during a school committee meeting on Tuesday night, prompted school officials to address the issue.

The 18-year-old Massachusetts student, who is openly gay, was addressing an audience member about 40 minutes into the meeting, who brought up a question about protective classes and white students earlier that night.

Atwood was interrupted a few times by the audience member who began shouting in disagreement, at one point she is heard on the video recording of the meeting saying “this is what they are being taught and it’s unacceptable.”

“This is extremely disgusting that you can look me in the eyes and say that I’m not being oppressed at the school!” Atwood responded.

That audience member was then asked to leave the meeting before the school committee took a break.

“It’s insane but it’s something that I see every single day in the hallways of the school,” Atwood told NBC10 Boston. “Obviously we’re not learning to be hateful in school so where are these kids learning this?”

Brockton High School students must walk through metal detectors before heading to class Monday morning after a student brought a gun to school.

Atwood wants more to be done to ensure someone like her is not only protected but also accepted.

“The more and more people that come out, the more and more people are just so uncomfortable with it because the change is just so quick… but it’s a change that needs to be happening,” said the senior class treasurer.

Franklin Public Schools Superintendent Sara E. Ahern issued a three-page letter to parents, saying in part:

“It is with a heavy heart and sincere anger that I write regarding the events that transpired at last evening’s school committee meeting… The conduct, tone, and disruption by some members of the audience was appalling and a violation of Franklin Public Schools’ core values of a safe and inclusive environment…”

Atwood said she’s being supported by the school and believes they are doing all they can to stop harassment and bullying. She hopes this event reminds others to be kind to each other.

“People, bare minimum, just need to be respectful of it and it’s not what we’re seeing yet, and it’s something that needs to be integrated,” she said.

The superintendent also assured that all reports the school receives are taken seriously and are investigated promptly, while noting that all students are protected under the district's bullying prevention policy.

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