District denies student-athlete was bullied - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

District denies student-athlete was bullied

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(KWWL) -

A high school girl says she has been bullied by her classmates so she transferred schools.

The high school athlete leaving Wapsie Valley for Jesup, but unable to play varsity volleyball because the Wapsie Valley School District won't admit she was bullied.

Therefore, she has to sit out for 90 days before she is eligible to play.

Governor Branstad signed a law this spring that allows student-athletes who transfer because of bullying to skip the 90 day wait period.

But that requires the school district to admit there was a case of bullying.  Wapsie Valley denies the bullying and have involved their attorney.

The Wapsie Valley lawyer telling KWWL's Jessica Hartman: "We don't care if she does or doesn't play."

Home video shows Jade Stepp playing volleyball for Wapsie Valley.  It is something she would like to do as part of the varsity team at her new school in Jesup.

 "I love it there. Volleyball is my life. There is not a day that I don't think about it. Don't play it. I have been playing volleyball since third grade and having Wapsie not approve it is hard," said Jade Stepp.

 Jade says after months of bullying at Wapsie and no sign of it stopping, she wanted to change schools.

 "These girls were not leaving her alone. After multiple tries. We were in that office two-three times a week with different documentation. The school has it on camera on multiple occasions and have suspended girls for bullying and harassment," said Jade's mom, Mandie Stepp.

 Wapsie Valley approved Jade's request to transfer back in January, but according to minutes from the board meeting, did not determine the merit of the bullying allegations.

  However, The Bremer County Sheriff confirms that Jade was assaulted on school property in October of last year. The assault was even caught on a school camera and the girl was charged with serious assault.

  On top of that, Jade's mom, Mandie, recorded a phone conversations between the Wapsie Principal and herself in January, when they were discussing other incidents that were caught on camera that shows Jade being teased by another girl.

 "It is not the greatest quality camera but I did eventually identify it. I did show [name of student] and she did confirm she did point and laugh at Jade's hair," said Wapsie Valley High School Principal Ross Bauer during the recorded phone conversation in January.

 Later in the conversation, the principal says the girl will be punished for the taunting.

 "She does have a consequence for that," said Bauer.

 Just two of many cases Mandie says her daughter endured during the fall semester last year.

 The Stepps addressed the school board again on Monday, asking for a reason why the district is withholding a statement to Jesup that would confirm the bullying and waive the 90 days.

  "Why are you dragging your feet? It is a simple email. Jesup has requested it. It just needs to state that Jade was part of a founded case of bullying and harassment at this school," said Mandie.

 "It is in the hands of our attorney. Now, if you want something waived or something like that, that is where it is going to come from," said Wapsie Valley School Board President Jerry VanDaele.

  When KWWL asked for an interview, we were referred to the attorney as well.

  The attorney Beth Hansen telling KWWL's Jessica Hartman: "We don't care if she plays or doesn't play."

  When asked if there was any legal action being taken to solve the issue, Hansen said she couldn't comment.

  Mandie Stepp tells KWWL, Hansen told her in an email, there is no founded case of bullying and harassment at Wapsie Valley.

  The Iowa Department of Education has yet to release protocol for schools to follow under the new student-athlete bullying law.

   But the department says a letter or email from the old school to the new school confirming a case of bullying is the only way a student can prove they are eligible to skip the 90 days.

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