Bullying by a teacher? Parents begin protest at Hancock Middle School

A parent holds a picket sign in front of Hancock Middle School on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016.
A parent holds a picket sign in front of Hancock Middle School on Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. Courtesy Christina Gehegan

“Hancock Middle choir teacher is bullying our children,” read one of the several signs lining the campus entrance as parents picked up their kids Friday afternoon.

The signs were the work of two parents protesting an issue at Hancock Middle School. The couple picketed at the campus driveway just as classes were dismissed for the day and cars were lining up to pick up students.

Another sign read, “End bullying. Sign our petition for immediate disciplinary action.”

Christina Gehegan said she and her husband decided to stage the protest after the school’s music/choir teacher, Judy Turner, told their daughter her parents didn’t care about her. Gehegan said the teacher tried to shame her daughter because the child was unable to attend an after-school program.

Gehegan said she tried meeting with the teacher to resolve the matter but was unsuccessful, prompting her and her husband to begin a protest and to circulate a petition that calls for disciplinary action against the teacher, she said.

The couple intends to protest every day “during pick-up or drop-off, if not both, until appropriate action is taken or (the choir teacher) is no longer teaching,” Gehegan said.

When asked about the picketing Friday afternoon, Hancock County School District Superintendent Alan Dedeaux said the principal had notified him about an incident but he was unsure what was going on.

“It sounds like you might know more about it than me,” Dedeaux told the Sun Herald. “All I can tell you is we’re going to investigate it. We will look into any issue and take the appropriate action once we get all the facts in.”

Dedeaux wouldn’t say what needed to be investigated.

Gehegan said it’s unlikely Dedeaux didn’t know what was going on as she had already brought the issue to his office, and has an appointment with him Monday morning.

The protest remained peaceful. Chief Deputy Don Bass said no deputies were dispatched, though a school resource officer with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office is on duty there during the school day.

Wesley Muller: 228-896-2322, @WesleySMuller