FOLSOM, California – Was it just a joke among kids or a gesture meant to hurt?
Either way, a parent-to-parent post on "Folsom Chat" about urine being put in the water bottle of a special needs child at Folsom High School in California drew hundreds of comments about bullying Tuesday night, September 27th.
Bullying is a very sensitive topic in the Folsom-Cordova Unified School District, two years after the suicide of a bullied male cheerleader.
One family says their 14-year-old is being targeted right now, according to KTXL.
"I felt heartbroken. I tried to make sense of the situation, and everybody just seemed so dismissive," said Hilda Lozano, mother to 14-year-old Michael, as tears streamed down her face.
Her tears are about a Monday incident at Folsom High School -- one in which she says her special needs son discovered someone dumped the water out of his water bottle and urinated in it in the locker room.
"He said he smelled it and it smelled bad -- and then he poured it out in the drain holes inside of the gym so the water goes in, and it was yellow and foamy," Lozano said.
She and her husband were actually on campus in a meeting to discuss the individual education program in place for their freshman, who's been diagnosed as being on the Autism spectrum.
That's when she got frantic calls from him about the urine.
Lozano told her son to bring the bottle straight to the office where they were having their meeting, but she says Vice Principal Annie Conover stopped him.
"Apparently the school's vice principal took the bottle from him, poured out the urine and then washed the bottle with soap and water and then sent him to me. Then when I got out of a meeting I went to took for her. [I was told] 'no -- not available.' I ask can I speak to another principal? 'No -- they're all in a meeting.' Every single principal's in a meeting? They said 'yes,'" she recalled.
"Their attitude was 'we'll get around to it when we get to it. When we get out of our meetings and do stuff, then we'll address your concerns.' That's the perception we got, which I'm pretty sure if they had children in their school and they were special needs and someone had urinated in their kids' water bottle, they would think it's an urgent concern," said Michael's father Ricardo Lozano.
On top of what they see as a lackluster response from the school, the Lozanos say someone targeted their son at school Tuesday, going into his lunchbox and leaving sealed containers open while he'd been called out of class.
Michael was too upset about the incidents to speak on camera about them, and his parents didn't want to share a picture of him for fear of more incidents.
Daniel Thigpen with the Folsom Cordova Unified School District sent KTXL this statement about the situation:
"In general, I can tell you that our schools take seriously such allegations; complaints such as these will be investigated fully, and appropriate action will be taken in any case where a student has been found to bully or harm another child.
In this case, my understanding is that administration is aware of the allegation, has met with the parent who authored this social media post, and has launched an investigation. As in all investigations involving potential student discipline, I cannot discuss specific details in order to protect the privacy of students involved."
In online chats Tuesday night, many Folsom students promised to wear blue to school Wednesday in support of Michael.
The Lozano family name may be familiar around Folsom.
Several years ago they sued the school district and won a non-monetary judgement that forced teachers to be retrained in how to carry out individual education programs for kids with special needs.