BETTENDORF, Iowa — Trina Hannsen's daughter has attended Bettendorf School District since grade school. But the problematic behavior didn't arise until her daughter entered middle school.
"Every morning, I dropped her off at school," Hannsen said. "And I tell her every morning, 'You don't have to be friends with everybody, but you have to be kind to everybody.'"
Despite her best attempts, her daughter quickly became a target for harassment after students returned from remote learning.
"One day in gym class, she was changing. One of these girls just walked up to her and just slapped her across the face as hard as she could. And another girl told her at the same time, as she was egging the first girl on to go kill herself because nobody liked her anyway," Hannsen said.
Hannsen quickly saw that the bullying followed her daughter outside of school after an incident occurred while running errands.
"She didn't want to get out of the car because they didn't like her. As we were walking into the door of the store, they hissed at us. These are middle schoolers!" Hannsen said.
That's when Hannsen had enough. She and an attorney sent a cease and desist letter to the middle school. Since sending that letter, personal attacks against her daughter have decreased.
But Hannsen said the overall "out of control" environment of the school stayed the same.
"Students are walking down the hallway leading other students on leashes and then they hiss at you as you walk by," said Hannsen. "There are so many fights every day. It's just like, well, you literally have to walk down by the lockers and not make eye contact with anybody.
"Some teachers are afraid to go in the halls. And I mean, yeah, they went over this at the board meeting," Hannsen said, referencing last week's school board meeting where multiple staff members spoke out on the chaos.
Luckily for Hannsen, her daughter graduates from middle school in 12 days. Still, she fears for incoming students.
"I just pray high school fits better, but at the same time, something still needs to change for the kids who are in the middle school right now," Hannsen said.