Pitman High sophomore Franky Carbajal, along with friends and other supporters, joined forces to hold a rally in front of his school on Monday in an effort to raise awareness about the bullying he says is happening at the school.
“What we’re trying to do is make a difference and tell them that we want change within our school,” said Carbajal. “We’re doing it now because if no one talks about it, then no one is going to do anything about it.”
Carbajal and his mother allege the school and district have not taken appropriate action against repeated instances of bullying towards him.
In a letter addressed to the Pitman principal, the TUSD Board and Franky's teachers, his mother, Gloria Campa, claims he was “was physically attacked based on his sexual orientation.” Carbajal echoed these allegations and said he was suspended for a day for defending himself against homophobic slurs.
Campa also alleges in the weeks and days preceding the attack, two students had repeatedly bullied Franky based on his sexual orientation, levying homophobic slurs and derogatory remarks. Campa said she brought these events to the attention of a school counselor, with instruction not to identify Franky specifically for fear of reprisal, but with the express desire for the school to make a general announcement as to the seriousness of hate related crimes and possibly hold workshops for vulnerable students. The counselor discussed the matter with school administrators, but nothing was done, she claimed.
Campa goes on to claim that the day before the alleged assault a group of students surrounded Carbajal and proceeded to threaten physical violence and called him numerous degrading labels, in addition to yelling lewd and sexually explicit profanities. After the incident Carbajal filed a formal complaint and explained the history of bullying and the fact that multiple students were involved. Pitman staff did suspend a student; however, “did not exercised any due diligence to uncover the identity of the other students involved to dispense additional disciplinary action or, at the very least, to de-escalate the situation to prevent the exact kind of physical retribution Franky endured the next day,” said Campa.
Turlock Unified School District said they investigate all instances of bullying thoroughly and take disciplinary action that is deemed appropriate. The district also said they are unable to share specifics on this inquiry due to student privacy constraints, but shared that allegations regarding a lack of consequences are inaccurate.
“TUSD is committed to creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students,” said TUSD communications coordinator Marie Russell. “Allegations of bullying are thoroughly investigated by school staff and appropriate consequences and restorative practices are given consistent with our TUSD Student Accountability Chart.”
Campa goes on to allege that the two students involved in the bullying incidents “have displayed a pattern of bullying, committing hate motivated acts of violence and a general disregard for the safety and mental well-being of others.”
The family is looking for these students to not be permitted to return to campus for the rest of the school year.
“If Pitman is unwilling to weigh this new evidence and expel these students, as a mother, I will explore all legal recourse available to me, including petitioning the California Attorney General Victims Crime Unit for review of the situation as a hate crime and assistance pursuing the same,” said Campa.
She has hired an attorney to file a formal complaint with the school district that will be the basis for potential negligence claims against Pitman High for failing to meet its fiduciary duty to protect Carbajal by taking appropriate de-escalation action in the face of clear indicators that such an attack was not only possible and likely, but imminent and inevitable.
“While fully understanding the consequences that Franky may have to endure, our family has methodically decided to put it all on the line to make sure this incident results in real change at Pitman High,” said Campa. “Should Pitman and Turlock District allow these thugs to come back to school, we will pursue any and all avenues to bring justice to my son and to all students at Pitman High.”