After Orange Grove bullying incident parents express concerns to school board

Melissa Cantu Trevino
Alice Echo News Journal

ORANGE GROVE — Parents and community members of Orange Grove made their bullying concerns known to school board members of Orange Grove Independent School District on Monday night.

On April 29, the school district was informed of an incident in the high school boys locker room involving several male students. Two 17-year-olds Luke Ingils and Jordan Garcia were arrested and booked into the Jim Wells County jail on suspicion of unlawful restraint. Four other male teenagers were detained and taken to a juvenile detention facility. 

Stephanie Garcia expresses her concerns about bullying at the Orange Grove ISD school board meeting.

"The bullying and harassment that takes place in Orange Grove is no longer a small issue. There is an elephant in the room and none of us can afford to ignore," said Stephanie Garcia, a mother of four OGISD students. "Through this summer, I think we need to focus on how we can eliminate bullying and harassing and make it safer for students and staff to speak up."

Garcia said during the past few weeks, several parents, students, staff and alumni have spoken out about various issues.

"For one, I know first hand how out of control these issues are allowed to get," she said.

Her 10-year-old son attempted suicide and has been in the hospital since the incident.

Pictured (From left to right): OGISD School Board member Scott Hinza, Superintendent Randy Hoyer and School Board President Will Klatt. They along with school board members, Zulema Gonzalez, Seale Brand and Jeremy Hubble, hear concerns about the district's issue with bullying.

"My son is currently in the hospital receiving around the clock treatment after bullying pushed him to the point that he thought taking his own life was better than having to live with the aggressor," she said. "He's having to face very real trauma at an early age in life. I did the reporting to the school, as they ask us to do. I attended the meetings, but it was clear that nothing would be done. I felt it, my son felt it and his desperation took over...The general consensus that came from everyone, psychologists and  psychiatrists alike, was that he was pushed to the point where taking his own life was his option."

Neither Superintendent Randy Hoyer nor school board members spoke during the public comments about the parents' concerns.

They later discussed, in executive session, making improvements to the locker room supervision, where the bullying incident took place.

Hoyer said school board members would edit an improvement plan and they would meet with the high school principal and football coach. The final plan will be communicated to parents and the community.