CUSD Parent Seeks Justice for Son

CUSD parent Holly Hayes spoke to the board regarding her son being a victim of a bullying incident back in February at the CUSD school board meeting on Mar. 2, 2022. (Courtesy of CUSD)

During the March 2 Clovis Unified School Board meeting’s public comment section, a mother came to the podium for the second time in two weeks to speak to the board about the injustices that had been brought on her son.

A week prior to February 16, her son Jayden Hayes was stalked from his campus at Kastner Intermediate to a local grocery store a few blocks away. It was there that he was beaten up inside a bathroom by eight boys, says his mother Holly Hayes. Two of the boys had been suspended, but Hayes desires more punishment for the physical and emotional damage these bullies have brought upon her son.  

“The way your district is handling these bullies needs massive improvement.” Hayes stated that Jayden had informed administrators at his school Kastner Intermediate of the threats of the bullies and that he was fearful for his safety.

Hayes states that the school told him to go back to his classroom since it was “the end of the day.” A potential threat had the opportunity to be stopped, but the inactivity of one school administration now has the attention of an entire movement.

Holly stated at the March 2 meeting that she would be willing to try and work with the school board to prevent situations like this from arising.

“I am willing to work with the district to form a parent’s group to collaborate with the schools”, proclaimed Hayes. She then went on to address a quote that CUSD Chief Communications Officer Kelly Avants made in a news clip and article done by ABC30. The quote that mother Holly Hayes singled out from Avants was about a “cautionary tale of social media clips”, that was “rarely reflective of a full version of what has actually happened.”

Hayes professed that Avants was not being interviewed on the “district’s interpretation of fake news” but rather on her son’s assault. She then went on to state that the district needed to stop implying that a crime didn’t occur. She re-examined, “It’s a criminal case.”

Superintendent Dr. Eimear O’Brien commented on the situation after the meeting.

“Our responsibility is to maintain consistency and fairness in our discipline practices and our investigative practices. We also keep our governing board fully appraised. The school is working with the parents involved. What I’d like to emphasize is that we have to be confidential but we also are pretty consistent about being consistent. We don’t have one set of rules for one child and a different set for another.”

She then went on to comment on Chief Communications Officer Kelly Avants.

“Sometimes when people read things in social media, all the facts may not be included, I believe that’s what Mrs. Avants was trying to get across because unfortunately we can’t share those facts.”

O’Brien continued, “What I will say is bullying is something that we absolutely do not condone in our schools. We have multiple programs in place. Our PBIS, our positive based intervention systems, we have in most of our schools. Our schools that don’t have PBIS have other behavior related programs, [for instance] the positivity project is across our district. We don’t wait until there’s a bully situation to teach. If you go to any of our schools, they’re teaching behavior related behaviors to our kids, both overtly and intentionally.”

Hayes stated that she has partnered with Mike Guido, owner of Guido’s Martial Arts Academy and already partner to a few of the Clovis Unified schools with his bully prevention and conflict avoidance programs. She has hopes of bringing assistance to the entire district and with community members in order to “implement change in how behavior is dealt with.” 

“We are here to prove this incident is not isolated, it’s a regular occurrence.”

Holly’s Facebook group “Justice For Jaden” has reached more than 800 followers.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.