SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A Kansas couple says that their son, who has special needs, was bullied in the classroom by his teacher. Now they are sharing their son's experience in hopes of changing the state's anti-bullying law.
Lisa and Blake Wendelburg say it took several years for their son, Loren, to get over the mental and emotional scars they say he suffered after being bullied by his elementary school teacher. They say that Loren, then 10 years old, was bullied both physically and verbally on several different occasions by his fifth grade teacher at Rising Star Elementary School in Lenexa.
"She singled him out daily for months," said Lisa Wendelburg. "She made fun of him when he answered questions inappropriately or incorrectly. She pulled the desk out from under him."
"She was just plain mean," said Loren Wendelburg, now in ninth grade. "I felt miserable. I felt depressed. I didn't want to go to school."
The family removed their son from the school, and are now home-schooling him. Lisa Wendelburg says that the Kansas Department of Social Services determined that her son was the victim of bullying. But she says that while state law protects teachers and staff from being bullied by students, that protection doesn't go the other way to protect students from bullying teachers.
"We want to make it so teachers cannot do this again, that there's something in the law that protects children," said Lisa Wendelburg.
Studies show that bullying teachers can act by using degrading words and physical abuse, and it may go unreported for fear of retribution. Researchers also say that teachers who bully students can often also bully other teachers or staff.
State officials would not discuss Loren Wendelburg's case, but say that local school districts are responsible for adopting and enforcing their own anti-bullying policies. A spokesperson for the Shawnee Mission School District says that they do not tolerate bullying, and take all reported incidents very seriously.
Meanwhile, the Wendelburg's - who say that they are taking their concerns about the anti-bullying law to the Kansas legislature - say that their son is doing better now both emotionally and academically.
"I do feel better now," said Loren Wendelburg. "I do."