Belleville school investigating taped confrontation between 10-year-olds shared online

A physical confrontation between 10-year-olds at school that was videotaped and shared online is being investigated by the district, according to the superintendent.

Whiteside District 115 Superintendent Peggy Burke said the incident happened Friday after students were dismissed for the day but were still in the building.

Staff talk to students about how to handle conflict, according to the Burke. But she said “10-year-olds don’t always make the best choices.”

There was another incident between the students a day earlier, which Burke said “had already been dealt with.” She said she didn’t have enough details Monday to categorize the incidents as bullying or not.

Burke said she couldn’t release more details.

“We’re dealing with students, so I’ve got Illinois law and federal law that I’m bound by,” she said.

An online petition was created in response to the incidents, but it is seeking a change to a “school policy” that doesn’t exist in District 115, according to Burke.

The petition is asking Gov. Bruce Rauner to “allow our children to defend themselves,” claiming a policy states that students who engage in physical violence can be suspended or expelled even if they are defending themselves against bullies.

“We don’t have any such policy,” Burke said. “... We’ve never said that you have to let a bully bully you.”

Illinois has ended zero-tolerance policies that required schools to suspend or expel students for certain behaviors. Now, schools consider how to respond to incidents on a case-by-case basis. They are required to limit long-term suspensions and expulsions under state law.

Lexi Cortes: 618-239-2528, @lexicortes

What to do if your child is bullied

The following advice on who parents should contact about bullying comes from the Illinois State Board of Education:

  • First, contact the school principal.
  • If your concern remains, consider contacting the district superintendent for help.
  • If your concerns are still not resolved, consider contacting the school board.
  • If your concern remains, consider contacting the regional office of education in your county.