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Area Superintendent Delfino Aleman just called with an update on Washington Elementary, the downtown school where parents staged a march this morning to protest bullying they said had gone unaddressed.

The protestors claim bullying incidents, including assaults, have gone undocumented and complain that the principal has not been responsive to their concerns. Washington has weathered controversy this year after incorporating a closed private school, Harborside, as a school program.

“We’re investigating,” Aleman said, adding that he first heard from parents about the bullying and alleged assaults Tuesday. “This is not how we want to treat kids.”

Principal Nestor Suarez held an assembly for fourth and fifth graders today at the school, which Aleman attended. Aleman said Washington would furnish lessons on bullying for third through fifth grade teachers, and that Washington teachers also have a “prevention kit” that includes lessons on empathy and problem-solving. Suarez hadn’t returned my phone call for comment as of 5 p.m. today.

James Saucedo, the parent who spearheaded the protest, was unimpressed. Saucedo said he’s still awaiting a timeline and action plan on how the school will combat bullying. He said

If no change is evident by Monday, Saucedo said he plans to pull his child out of Washington. Other parents have threatened to follow suit.

Some background from my earlier post today:

Tensions between the two (student groups) have built, with Washington parents claiming that Harborside students are afforded better resources, and Harborside parents complaining that they have been blamed for the school district’s bungling of the merger.

Today, dozens of aggrieved parents marched at the school, calling for a student walkout if a series of bullying incidents targeting Harborside students aren’t addressed. Parent James Saucedo said his son, a fifth-grader in the Harborside program, has been assaulted and harassed. He alleges that the school did not file incident reports.

The local NBC affiliate covered the protests this morning. The NBC story repeats a misconception that I had unintentionally given as well, early in our coverage of Washington: Though Harborside closed for financial reasons, it didn’t file for bankruptcy.

EMILY ALPERT

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