Columbia resident Joni Albright Groom spoke out about the lack of discipline and follow-through by administrators for bullying incidents at Columbia High School. Groom spoke to the Columbia School Board at its September 15 meeting, with about 100 residents in attendance:
"I witnessed firsthand, as I was employed at CHS for 21 years in the kitchen, prior to my retirement this school year. I've seen students throwing food at each other, teachers, co-workers, janitors, me, etc. I've seen students purposely make messes, be destructive, using foul and inappropriate language to myself, teachers, etc. Most of the time they were reported and written up, but the problem is most of the time they were never disciplined. In one such incident, I was personally threatened by a student, serving lunch I was, she said to me, 'I'll come back over that counter after you and I'll beat your m-f-ing a-s-s.' Guess what, this student was never written up or punished for this incident. Never. She was right back in there. In fact, she was never even taken out of the cafeteria that day. Never. I'm not so sure our teachers get the full support from the administration for handling these ongoing discipline problems.
"Mr. Strickler, I read where you said that the reason they had their cellphones out was because they were turning them off before class. Well, I plead Dr. Hollister and yourself to take a trip up to the high school and see how many cellphones are being used other than in the cafeteria. I've seen it firsthand.
"I really don't know what the solution is to these problems, but I hope we can all work as a community to make this a safe place for our students who want to learn and get a good education. In closing, there is an African proverb that says, 'It takes a village to raise a child.' Well, I guess that's what it takes."