GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC. - A mother from South Carolina was arrested after entering an elementary school without permission where she says she was just trying to confront her son’s bullies.
The interaction soon got emotional, and according to a police report as well as the Greeville County School District, Jamie Rathburn was seen yelling at a group of kids and a teacher.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office said Rathburn entered Greenbrier Elementary School without permission and began yelling at a class of third-grade students, pointing her finger in a threatening manner.
Beth Brotherton, director of communications for the Greenville school district said that Rathburn had admitted she did not know who the bullies were, but Rathburn insists she did.
Brotherton said there had been several isolated incidents between Rathburn’s son and fellow classmates but she said it was nothing that would constitute bullying, which she defines as repeated behavior by a specific individual or specific group of people.
“Maybe in her mind she was going there to confront a bully or a couple of children, but in not knowing who those were and choosing to yell at dozens of innocent kids, there is nothing appropriate about yelling at other people’s children’s in a school setting after you’ve snuck in illegally,” Brotherton said.
According to Brotherton, some of the specific incidents involved another classmate making faces or telling Rathburn’s son that his haircut was “silly,” but Rathburn insists the treatment of her son was closer to harassment.
“He was told that he was ugly, that he was stupid, nobody cared, and he was called gay, he was cussed out, and when he reported those things he was told to ignore it,” Rathburn said.
She says that these incidents continued to occur over the course of the school year and eventually became violent, saying that he was thrown off a ladder slide by his neck and even hit with a computer.
She said that her son had scratch marks on his neck as well as bruises and when she tried to show the principal, they did nothing. The school district, however, insists Rathburn’s allegations are simply a case of “boys playing rough.”
“There were several different students over the course of the year who he did not get along with or weren’t the nicest kids in the room or said something unkind,” said Brotherton.
The child who allegedly threw Rathburn’s son off the slide was disciplined according to the school’s disciplinary guidelines, Brotherton said.
On the day of her arrest, Rathburn had posted a video a Facebook live video where she said she was on her way to give the school a “piece of her mind,” which prompted a “concerned citizen” to inform law enforcement.
“I just want to make it clear that our employees were not responsible for pressing charges,” said Brotherton.
Rathburn has since sincerely apologized for her behavior but says she was just fed up with how her son was being treated.
She said the school had isolated her son from the rest of the class for her son’s safety but felt it was retaliation for her behavior and persistence in trying to get the school to do something about the bullying.
“I understand what I did was wrong. Like I said, I don’t condone it. I don’t recommend it. I wish I could change it. I can’t change it though, the only thing I can do is apologize, because that is sincere, and try to push forward and put the spotlight on what the real issues are, and that’s bullying,” Rathburn said.
Rathburn is currently on a no trespassing notice in which her son will not be able to return to Greenbrier Elementary School but will still be allowed to attend another school in the district.
“Anyone who chooses by their own admission to illegally sneak into a school building, yell at a hallway full of 8 and 9-year-old children, and curse an elementary school teacher in front of those children is going to get put on a no trespass notice and not be allowed back into the school for the rest of the year,” said Brotherton.