Two words when not said, speak the loudest #BeThereForKaylee

Written by: Jeremy Baumhower

Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 5.59.11 PM

Sometimes people get sick, sometimes it becomes contagious, sometimes people have no idea that they are sick and contagious; what I saw this morning in a jam-packed conference room at the Anthony Wayne School District Center, was a school system that was in complete denial, almost defiant that it was or could possibly be… ill.

The 100-plus people in attendance which filled every seat, lined the back and sides walls and hallway leading inside, were all there to support Tim and Marla Halko as they addressed the “bullying” of their daughter 10 year-old Kaylee, to the Anthony Wayne School Board during it’s monthly meeting. As TV cameras rolled tape, reporters took notes, speaker after speaker from the community asked numerous questions about the bullying of Kaylee Halko and specifically the actions of the school district following the incident. Citing State and Federal laws; Superintendent Dr. Jim Fritz said he “could not go into specifics” of this case or any other specific case. Dr. Fritz addressed a list of programs that the AWS District has installed to prevent bullying and the checks-and-balances to help bring it to the right people’s attention. Dr. Fritz often reminded the people in attendance that “there was two-sides to every story”, but couldn’t elaborate on the other side.

A lot of words were said by Dr. Fritz, but not the right ones.

During this hour-long public meeting, there were two words that were notably absent from the mouths of Dr. Fritz or any other member of the AWS Board. Two words that should have been said first and repeated throughout. Two words that those with hearts say first.

Two words that nearly every other person when learning of this story has uttered to the parents of Kaylee Halko… “I’m sorry.”

Apologizing is not always an admission of guilt, but a recognition that someone else is having a hard time. They are words we use when we try to make things right, that can sometimes even be out of our control. They are a way we as human beings express sympathy, empathy and compassion towards others. “I’m sorry this bad thing has happened to you”. “I’m sorry you felt no other choice but to move away”. “I’m sorry we couldn’t do more to help your family”. “I’m sorry”.

Instead of hearing those words, I listened with complete disbelief at ones spoken by AWS Board member Doug Zimmerman, “ I think the Principal did a remarkable job handling the situation…. We have seen everything, all the evidence.. I can honestly say that I sleep comfortably at night with what happened here.”

There was a collective THUMP that followed those words, as every jaw in the room fell onto the floor. It made Marla Halko instantly turn away in disgust and tell me “I can not even look at that man anymore.”

I couldn’t take my eyes off of him.

This was the very moment when I saw the sickness in the room.

It was very apparent as to why there are countless stories of bullying happening here in the Anthony Wayne Schools; why MTV can do an entire special on the topic, why a child may take their own life and why a child who suffers from Progeria could be bullied and would have to move away going into their fifth grade year… the district, it’s school board and it’s Superintendent are not well.

AWS is a culture with accepted bullying and an ineffective system to mandate, discipline and control.

I am saddened that not one member of the AWS board expressed any empathy to the stories being shared or to those with the courage enough to share them. I understand it was a tough room, but soft words may have softened it.

There was no compassion from those who are responsible for teaching our children the very concept.

The time for a change in AWS is not tomorrow nor next year, but now. The exact moment a needed change was confirmed when AWS Board Member Doug Zimmerman finished speaking; his resignation should come first and not be the last.

If a girl with progeria being bullied in the district he is elected to help govern, doesn’t cause him any loss of sleep, then what does?

To Marla and Tim Halko:  I’m sorry.

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members – the last, the least, the littlest.” ~Cardinal Roger Mahony


Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Baumhower, Bullying, Column, Discussion, education, FAIL, Family, Fatherhood, Feels, Kaylee Halko, Life, Motherhood, News, Parenting, Schools, Waterville
38 comments on “Two words when not said, speak the loudest #BeThereForKaylee
  1. AW Parent says:

    I can tell you who won’t have my vote during re-election.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know if there is a AWS Member worth keeping after today. Any one of them could have spoken up and showed compassion, but none did.

      Liked by 1 person

      • AW parent says:


        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Arnold says:

        Sadly Jeremy, this is not just isolated in the AW school district or even Ohio. My granddaughter experienced bullying in a Michigan school by an adult parent, not much follow through by the school there either. we need to educate not only on diseases such as progeria, but the bullying problem in general. I believe Kaylee played soccer with one of my grandchildren several years ago. I have always admired hers and her family’s spirit and would like to help if I can. I have followed her story closely for years. I am curious if these insults, and words of hate were directed by children in her own grade? I am assuming from someone in the school district, I can’t help but wonder what the parents of these children have done to address this as well. Where can we go from here? I am not part of the AW school district, nor do I have any children still in school, but would like to speak out to the devastation bullying causes to any child (or adult) anywhere. We must stop this epidemic.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Why not take this national? I’m sure 60 minutes, Today Show, GMA, Ellen or any similar national talk shows would be more than happy to give this the attention it deserves.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Shirley Stieb says:

    The AWS members are probably bullies themselves!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hurting heart. My A.J. dealt with similar issues years ago at maumee – but I was okay with how it was handled. Our children with special medical needs are the ones who deserve the most protecting – they already deal with enough pain and heart ache without bullying involved. Sad sad time locally. I love you Halkos, but you know that 🙂 I know you’re keeping the faith and believing things WILL get better – Kaylee is involved…. So even when surrounded with darkness you have her bright light right there with ya!!! She’s awesome! Love you guys! Xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Again, my heart is broken. My eyes are flooding with tears.
    Why? Why would anyone do this to Kaylee? Why won’t they embrace and protect her? Kaylee is an ANGEL…her spirit glows, why are they allowing it to be dimmed? I cannot understand this. it is such an act of evil that I can’t help but cringe. Why would anyone with a soul, a beating heart, and breathing not overwhelm Kaylee with love and support? I cannot believe this is really happening.
    I LOVE YOU, KAYLEE! ❤ I am so sorry for your pain and I am so sorry for the suffering your Family has endured. I am SO SORRY! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pam H says:

    AWS has failed Kaylee. AWS has failed their entire community.
    AWS has also failed the child/children who did the bullying because he is showing behaviors that are screaming for help. His parents should be investigated and the entire family needs therapy. A child this young has learned such hatred and the school should be investigating the well-being of him as well as the well-being of Kaylee.

    Shame on them. Time for parents in the district speak up loudly so children are given what they need to work through their pain that is behind behaviors that the child who is bullying has shown. Kaylee has moved, a forced move brought in by the inept AWS and her parents will help her heal and the community will help the parents heal. The child who did this will not be taught what he did wrong. He will continue to suffer from his hatred within. He and his parents know that the system will now support them in their abusive ways, so why change? The parents and AWS has failed this boy as well as Kaylee.

    If, and I pray it never happens, that this boy and family dovnot get the help they need, that AWS may have a national news story about violence in their future. Then will the Board sit around and say “Why did this happen? Nothing we could have done to avoid it.” Get the boy help!!! He is screaming silently for it!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Derm Forde says:

    I’m honestly so discouraged with the school board that I just don’t know what to say. The fact that the Halkos feel the need to move should be a wake up call for the Board. The voters will not forget this and we need to get folks on the school board who will seriously address this and other issues. Such a deflating experience this morning.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. AW Mom says:

    My heart breaks for this family!! AW needs to open thier eyes to what is going on. I pray the Halkos can find peace in a better district. #imsorrykaylee

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I went to Anthony Wayne and i have spina bifida, bullying was an everyday job to deal with. When will the madness stop when will we as human beings see with open eyes. This is horrible and makes me completely ashamed to be a Anthony Wayne alum. Smh with sadness

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Kristen Johnson says:

    There are some other schools that are options for parents in the Anthony Wayne school district. Lial and St. Joseph School in Maumee will both take students from anywhere in the Anthony Wayne district. It’s an option and after today one that more people may want to exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Zanna says:

    As an alumni of AW I am embarrassed …. As a parent to 3 kids at Eastwood, we welcome kaylee with open arms. Eastwood already has talked to the kids about progeria, set the stage, and it has been made VERY clear what is acceptable behavior towards each other. They run a tight ship when it comes to bullying, and this starts with the kindergarten students. No excuses, no exceptions. As far as I can tell…. Eastwood got the prize!!!!!
    AW… You need to wake up fast and get your head out of the sand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tracy Blevins says:

      Eastwood is a wonderful district and we welcome Kaylee and the Halko family…with wide open wings! Eagles we got this Eaglet now let’s take her into our nest and show her what a great District we are. 0 tolerance.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Carol Bailey says:

      Well said. We heard you were coming our way at the school board meeting last night. Welcome to Eastwood School District and the Pemberville, Luckey area! I welcome you and hope and pray that you will feel welcome here. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if there is anything I can do to help make your new home everything you wish it to be! I hope to meet you and your wonderful family soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Darlene says:

    I also attended the meeting today. I went home and checked out Anthony Wayne Local Schools website
    Click on About AW, compliance documents, then click on bullying
    Their site claims 1
    bullying incident at the high school, 0 at the junior high, 1 at the middle school and 2 at all the elementary schools. These are their statistics for the 2013-2014 school year. Talk about skewed numbers. The board is not taking bullying seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. JJ says:

    As a former AW teacher this does not suprise me at all. Our job as teachers and as a school district is to protect kids, they can’t protect themselves. As a former AW teacher “I’M SORRY!!” That they have done this to you.
    Jeremy Baumhower thank you for keeping is informed on the REAL STORY.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Tammy says:

    I too have had issues with bullying at AW, and made a report this year, 2013/2014, curious to know how many others have made reports for this school period! I also have been to their website and saw the numbers they’ve reported for bullying incidents, for 2013/14, they show 1 for the middle school, FT. I can’t believe that I am the only one who has called regarding my child being bullied! How many others out there have called AW regarding there child being bullied? I bet there are alot more parents that have reported, but FT isnt showing them! This has gone on too long!!!! How can we find a solution when our administration doesn’t acknowledge that there is a problem And as for Kaylee, I AM SORRY THAT SHE HAD TO BE SUBJECTED TO THAT. Stand together!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Angie C says:

    I am not quite as eloquent as others, especially when so stunned. I too was there this morning, made the 30 minute drive to listen in from the hallway for some of it only to squeeze into a seat when someone left. I listened intently as point after point was discussed and listened in shock as each was met with a sanctimonious “We still feel we did the right thing”. When you have any child wanting to move away from your school, it should raise some sort of flag. When that child is medically fragile and his/her parents have trusted you with her care for the better part of each day, it should raise a big red flag. When this situation is rising at the same time as another district family of yours is burying their beautiful daughter lost early because of bullying, it should be sounding bells and whistles. You have lost control of your staff, your students, your families, the district you’ve sworn to lead in the right direction. I’ve heard it said that those in control tell others what to do while leaders show them the way. Those in charge believe themselves to always know what’s best while leaders keep their eyes open to see there is always room to improve. Sometimes those on the outside have the best view. I can tell you this, from the outside. Today and every day since this situation was brought to your attention, the AWSB has been “in charge” but they have failed to be leaders. I pray the coverage of this story and others like it will reach the ears of those LEADING other school districts in our area. I pray those at PHS, where another girl recently committed suicide recently,and those at all surrounding schools will step up and refuse to hide behind vague laws. Challenge yourselves to be the trend setters for acceptance of all people and only have an intolerance for those who are unable to accept…instead of one more “victim” of the “our hands are tied” excuse. Be more than that. Challenge your staff and students and parents to be better than that. Parents raise your children to be the trend setters and lead them by example. Our schools can only be as strong as it’s administration; but our administrators are only as strong as we challenge them to be! Thank you for the time and space and I’m sorry it was so long :/

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Grandma Jean says:

    I don’t know Kaylee or her family personally but have seen news programs about benefits for Kaylee and about her health problems. Just can’t believe a school system is not taking more action on this problem, the boy that bullied her and his parents should definately get professional help and apologize to Kaylee and her family.They have enough to deal with daily with Kaylees medical problems and now this. From the bottom of my heart I’ll say I’m sorry to her family and Kaylee for having to go through this ordeal and shame on the AW school board and administration for not handling this better!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • C.B. says:

      AW did all they legally could. You can only do so much in the eyes of the law. The sherriff’s office, the county prosecutor, and a judge were all consulted on this matter. Did you know that after the boy returned from suspension that him and Kaylee were sitting together and were perfectly fine? This article is doing nothing but poisoning people’s minds with Jeremy’s own views and opinions and not actual facts.


  16. TWinters says:

    Bulling in this district goes beyond just the students..and is tolerated.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Josh says:

    Really? What do you expect them to do though? They cannot control the actions of every single child, they are still individuals with free will. They cannot force everyone to be friends with everyone, they can’t blast sunshine and rainbows through the halls to make everyone get along. Adults have to deal with the same social aspects in the workplace and sheltering your children through helicopter parenting will not do them any favors. School is when children learn important social skills, kids are mean, we all know this, but if you can’t make it through high school without killing yourself, you’ll never make it in the real world. Anthony Wayne doesn’t have a bigger problem with bullying than any other school system, the only difference is that they’re all over privileged suburban rich kids with few other real problems to worry about in life so when something like this happens it gets blown out of proportion by parents who refuse to let kids be kids. Students at inner city schools have way more to deal with, they’re just better at coping because they’re used to getting knocked down in life and having to pick themselves back up all on their own. Stop breeding a generation of pansies, because the harsh realities of the world aren’t going anywhere. Teach your kids to be strong and carry on, that’s the best thing you can do for them unless you plan on following them around their entire adult life to deal with problems for them .


    • Angie C says:

      Wow, Josh…just wow! I mean I 100% get that I should teach my 2 children with mild disorders that they’re a little different and kids will be cruel, etc, etc. I’ve worked on this with my own little girl for awhile now and not only is she confident she is also extremely empathetic to others with differences and that makes me proud. However, insert big sigh, there is a complete difference between a “kids will be kids” mentality and expecting a kid to stare at my daughter’s crossing eyes every time we take her glasses off or when my son is on his tiptoes and flapping his hands in excitement (both things I’m convinced I can steer around) and….saying/writing pure hate filled things about wanting a child to “f*ing die” when she is already living with a genetic disease that on average will, in fact, kill her in just a few short years. I greatly apologize to anyone that that sentence offends; but I wish people would realize the severity of this. I sincerely hope Kaylee has many many more years left on this earth and that she can continue to be a light for others everyone of them and more. It is ridiculous for you, Sir, or anyone else to attempt to blur that line even further of where a child should grow thicker skin and where we, as adults, in school and out need to teach others that it is not okay for our right to free speech to trump the right of all children to learn in an environment free from hate, intimidation, and lack of safety. And, by the way, you, people and others like you need to realize they’re not doing that little boy any justice. ” Adults have to deal with the same social aspects in the workplace and sheltering your children through helicopter parenting will not do them any favors.” In the real world of work place and everyday living, adults can not just walk around spewing hate filled messages. They will have difficulty finding and maintaining employment, could mouth off to the wrong person(s) and be injured, could also face legal action and incarceration…further hurting their chances of employment and being a productive member of society. Think about that.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Shawn Marie Meagley says:

    My two children attended AWS for five years. They were constantly telling me stories of students being bullied by others as well as being bullied themselves. Talking to the teachers and staff of the schools was pointless. The teachers in general are apathetic and some are bullies themselves. I was told on more than one occasion that my kids needed to develop thicker skin and learn to deal with peer relations. AWS has failed time and time again to protect its students, to set higher standards for its staff and enforce the regulations that are in place. This is all aside from their failure in the academic arena. I am thankful that my kids are strong and compassionate individuals. I am also happy that my youngest is not experiencing high school at AW.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. […] RELATED: Baumhower: Two words when not said, speak the loudest […]


  20. Lou says:

    I went to that School and things were bad back then, but I hvae noticed things have gotten extremely worse, My daughter too is going into %th grade and has been bullied to the point of not wanting to go to school. Where are the parents to teach their children right from wrong. I was proud to go to AW and I don’t feel as proud now because of what these poor children have to go through.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Momma says:

    Sounds like the school knows who the kid is that is bullying Kaylee. That kid needs help. His parents are probably as bad as he is, and they need help. I’m talking professional help. Was this kid raised by wolves? I get it that the school has limitations and rules to follow. The school board has communicated that in an awkward and uncaring way. It’s a no brainer that kids can’t have parents sticking up for them at every confrontation. Once a kid is identified as being inappropriate, that kid should get immediate counseling. The more the school board talks, the more idiotic they sound. This whole thing is just messed up.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Brenda says:

    Where are the parents of this bullies. They should have been there standing behind their kids so that they could all apologize to the family. I don’t understand how any school board and the districts could let bullying of any special child or any child for that fact. I could not go home and sleep at night knowing that this is happening. This happens in a lot of districts but people don’t know because it doesn’t make it into the media. I fight every year for my son and it falls on deaf ears and it isn’t students that I am aware of, it is the staff that work with him.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Angie Mintz says:

    My jaw hit the ground when I read the quote from Dr. Fritz, “there was two-sides to every story”. You’ve GOT to be kidding me! I’m beyond thankful we did not end up buying a house in Waterville 10 years ago. This story needs to reach across this country to bring attention to this horrific problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. mamabearr73 says:

    TWinters…yes it does! Unfortunately I know about that all too well…

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Sherri says:

    first of all, the fact that you said that an AW board member should resign is UNBELIEVEABLE. you don’t understand what AW has been through in the past 5 years. We lost many lives, but we come together as a community. All you do with your “blog” is bash on AW like it’s the worst district in ohio. You don’t even point out all of the positives of AW. I can tell you that the positives out weigh the negatives anyday. take your own advice and stop “cyber bullying” telling Mr. Zimmerman to resign. that’s just cruel. Anthony Wayne is basically his life and you’re voicing your opinion telling him to resign? take your blog and stop bashing AW; this school district was the best thing that’s ever happened to me, and I’m proud to call myself an alumni of Anthony Wayne. open your eyes and see the effects of your blog: you’re hurting the people of AW. Bullying isn’t just at AW; I can tell you that there are many other school districts that have it worse.


  26. C.B. says:

    Honestly, this blog is so biased and he does nothing but vilify AW for everything bad that happens. The school district can only do so much because of the law. I bet few people know that the sheriff’s office, the county prosecutor, and a judge where all consulted to see what all AW could do. Why aren’t you vilifying them too? Why not the parents? Why not the internet? Stop buying into all the negativity and hate of this blog because it is doing more harm than good.


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