Group protesting bullying in Illinois public schools

Local News

MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — “This town has to wake up, period.” That’s why this group is sounding an alarm — claiming there’s a serious problem that needs to be talked about.

A group of people in Mattoon rallied against bullying in public schools. Mattoon Schools and investigators say they want to caution against rumors of bullying leading to the shooting, but that didn’t stop one group from protesting bullying in the district.

“We feel like it’s been swept under the rug.”

Tiffany Lanman isn’t happy after the last few weeks at Mattoon High School.

“We’re fed up, but we’re done here locally dealing with it.”

She claims bullying led to September’s high school shooting, and was a factor in two other threats — one written in the school’s bathroom.

“It’s almost like it’s acceptable, and those of us that are out here are done with it being acceptable.” investigators say they haven’t confirmed any motives or specific situations that led to the shooting. That’s after interviewing more than 250 students and staff.

That didn’t stop this group from protesting — and they know it’s just a handful of people here.

“Even if there’s just a little bit of us out here tonight, that’s a start.”

But they’re hoping their message will spread, so they can make schools across Illinois safer for kids — kids like Aleesia and Olivia.

“I have friends who’ve been bullied, I’ve also been bullied myself.”

“I’m really tired of everyone bringing all of us down.”

They say it’s been a problem for years — which is why they’re pushing for school officials to crack down.

“I’m going to take it as far as I have to take it, I’m not stopping.”

The group plans to move on to the school board, city council, state board and then the U.S. Department of Education. They’ve also written letters to Illinois congressional leaders — and say they’re prepared to do whatever it takes to force action.

While officials are still investigating that, there are some facts of the case that aren’t being released to the public. While the suspect is known to students and staff — investigators are not naming him because he’s a juvenile. The case is being handled by the Coles County State’s Attorney.

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