LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. – Students picked up their backpacks and walked out of school in Lee’s Summit, skipping class to protest bullying. A violent fight last week sparked the push for change.
The Lee’s Summit R-7 School District is investigating after the incident sent one student to the hospital.
“We need to be heard!” students yelled in the school parking lot.
More than 100 students at Lee’s Summit High School walked out of class Monday in a peaceful protest. It was a show of support for inclusion and classmate Danny Lillis.
“It meant the world to me, truly,” Lillis said. “I was on the verge of tears.”
Lillis is openly gay and wears makeup to express himself.
One week into school, he said a group of boys began picking on him, even throwing an open mustard packet at his friends in the lunchroom.
“When students feel that they have experience bullying in our schools, we have multiple avenues for them to report that to administration, and we deal with that promptly in accordance to board policy,” district spokesperson Katy Bergen said.
Lillis said he did that. Since August, he’s gone to administration several times to report ongoing harassment.
“This could’ve been stopped within the first three days of me coming to them,” Lillis said. “This could have been stopped each and every time.”
Last Wednesday, there was a fight between one of the boys and Lillis’s friend. She went to the hospital with a broken nose.
“Anyone who doesn’t feel safe can always come to me,” Lillis said to his classmates Monday.
Danny’s mom Missy Lillis said she met with the assistant principal to work out a safety plan weeks ago.
“We never, ever wanted things to get escalated to this point. Unfortunately, it did, and physical harm was done,” Missy Lillis said.
After recently meeting with district leaders and Monday’s show of support by Danny’s peers, the metro mom feels hopeful for positive change.
“We’re here to hear students. We’re here to value their voice,” Bergen said. “We’re here to respect their right to express themselves in a peaceful manner. So we’re doing a lot of listening today.”
“We are appreciative that they are on board and they are listening,” Missy Lillis said. “Again, it’s just so unfortunate that it had to get to this place before because it could have been stopped in my opinion.”
Bergen couldn’t give details about the situation, but said through the investigation, they are looking for more ways to make sure students are safe at school.