CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a disturbing allegation of bullying in a suburban school. The person accused of doing the bullying is not a student, it’s the principal of the school.
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is investigating the principal based on the allegations, but at this time DCFS is not commenting on the case.
Several parents, however, talked to CBS 2 by phone, and one agreed to share his daughter’s story on camera.
Christ’s Academy Christian School in Shorewood is a private school. It looks child-friendly, but some parents of former and current students said looks can be deceiving.
“She’s a bully,” said Russ Homans, when talking about the school’s principal, Sharon Meiergerd.
Homans said, after his 14-year-old daughter was suspended for two days for telling a lie, she returned to school; but Principal Meiergerd isolated her from other students and teachers for almost three weeks.
“She basically sitting outside the principal’s office all day, and she cannot speak. She is basically silenced all day. If she opens her mouth to make a comment about any little thing, she is yelled at,” explained Homans.
Meiergerd said she isolated the child at the parents’ request. Homans denied that, and said the treatment took a toll on his daughter — who felt ostracized. When she talked about it with a family psychologist, the psychologist alerted DCFS, citing mental cruelty to children.
“It just creates a hostile environment. I mean, these are children. Our daughter’s 14, but there’s kids that are kindergarten, first grade,” said Homans.
By phone, three other parents told CBS 2 of other incidents at Christ’s Academy involving Meiergerd berating or embarrassing their children.
In one alleged incident, an African-American student asked the principal if she could wash her hands after getting black dry erase marker on them. The principal allegedly said something along the lines of “you can’t wash black off.”
In a phone conversation, principal Meiergerd acknowledged the incident, but said she was only joking with the student, and wasn’t sure if those were her exact words. Parents, including Homans, said it doesn’t matter.
“That’s not how you joke with a child. This is serious stuff,” he said. “We just feel like she doesn’t understand the long-term effects on these children.”
Meiergerd acknowledged the investigation during a phone interview, but she declined to go on camera.
Again, this is only an investigation, and Meiergerd has not been found to have done anything wrong at this time.