Bennington parents raise safety concerns after incident at elementary school

The parents considered it serious enough to file sheriff’s reports.
An assault by one student on several others has become a flash point for some parents at a Bennington elementary school.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 10:48 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2022 at 3:27 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BENNINGTON, Neb. (WOWT) - An assault by one student on several others has become a flash point for some parents at a Bennington elementary school. They considered it serious enough to file sheriff’s reports.

When Heritage Elementary got out last Wednesday Brecken Leclair, 7, showed his mom the marks that he got at school from another second grader.

“He did like this, and I tried to breathe and I couldn’t breathe, and he started hurting me a lot, Brecken Leclair said.

A seven-year-old boy attacked Brecken and two other boys during recess.

His mother asks if he felt safe at school.

“Not really because he can find me at recess and hurt me,” said Brecken Leclair.

The boy who assaulted three classmates has autism spectrum disorder and his mother asked not to be identified.

“I’m so sorry your children got hurt at the hand of my child. Please know I’m doing my due diligence as a mother,” said the mother of special needs student.

Parents of three students have filed sheriff’s reports.

“I don’t want this child to have a criminal rap sheet that isn’t what this is about. I want this child to have the resources that are most beneficial to him. I don’t want him harming other students or harming himself,” said Raiven Leclair.

On another day another student was hurt by the same student.

“He scratched like this, with a card,” said Brynlee Walsh.

The mother of the special needs student says her son doesn’t mean to hurt his friends.

“My son loves your kids, and his actions may not always show that,” said the mother.

But he requires help to understand.

“The teachers when they are saying this special needs child needs this, they need to have administrators listen,” said the mother.

Unable to talk about one or any other student at Heritage Elementary, Bennington School District administrators say they are taking parents’ concerns seriously.

“The past few weeks we’ve had some incidents that have come to our attention, and again we want to work with our staff and our faculty to make sure they are equipped with a behavior plan that works for all of our students,” said Assistant Superintendent Matt Blomenkamp.

Parents say they want better communication and incident reporting by the principal and school district.

“When she went to the office and received medical treatment and she had a scratch on her eyeball they should have absolutely called me and let me know and they didn’t,” said Jacklyn Lane.

The father of one of the boys assaulted last week hopes his sheriff’s report gets a response.

“This will hopefully get the attention of the school to say hey something needs to get done and we need to make sure we are protecting our kids. Which shouldn’t take it that far,” said Austin Brake.

“We have some parents who are frustrated, and we want to listen to those parents we want to review what we are doing in our buildings in our to make sure they are comfortable with their students going to school,” said Blomenkamp.

The DCSO has received reports in regard to possible assaults at Heritage Elementary School involving a minor child suspect and minor child victims. DCSO investigators have spoken to the school and have been assured that a safety plan is now in place.

Chief Deputy Wayne Hudson

Student safety is a priority for school staff, administrators, and parents.

One parent says this recess incident has her playing it safer by making it easier for her daughter to contact her in an emergency.

Brynlee Walsh, 7, wears a GizmoWatch at school.

“Hello, hi, and then we can talk to one another, and she’ll let me know if there is an emergency,” said mom and Brynlee.

And should that happen this mom expects the next call to come from the school.

The mother of the student who allegedly assaulted classmates says her son received a one-day suspension and she has applied to transfer him to another school in the district. The sheriff’s office is reviewing the reports and the chief deputy says it’s too early to comment.

We are aware of some concerns about student behavior at Heritage Elementary.

We want to share with you that we are aware of these concerns and are taking steps to address them. Bennington Public Schools wants all students to learn, grow, be successful and feel safe every day. We have a team that is working on developing a plan to help move Heritage Elementary forward, with five district office administrators overseeing the implementation of this plan.

The plan includes revisiting the school’s positive behavior system, providing training opportunities for all staff, and increasing communication to families. We are asking for you to partner with us as we move forward and as your student learns about the positive behavior system and building expectations.

We will continue to communicate with you as we develop and implement structures and procedures. If you have concerns, please direct them to either Mrs. Therese Nelson or Dr. Shannon Thoendel who are at Heritage elementary in the administration office.

An email sent to Bennington Public Schools parents