Alex Hernandez, a hearing-impaired student at Burke High School, had his backpack taken and its contents emptied into the toilet.
The incident has gained significant media attention, which has led to the school in Nebraska to investigate the bullying that seems to occur on its grounds. Hernandez had reported the backpack missing, only for it to be discovered later stuffed in the toilet along with its contents. Images of the incident went viral on various social networks. The backpack consisted of a tablet, homework, a debit card and cochlear implant.
Hernandez speaks against bullies
“Those students think it’s OK to bully a deaf student, but it’s not. It’s not OK to bully someone who is disabled, deaf or hard of hearing. Or anyone for that matter,” said Hernandez when he spoke out against the bullying with KMTV in Omaha.
A fellow student named Devon Fuller said he saw a picture of the backpack on Facebook and felt disgusted.
According to the video surveillance captured, two male students were seen taking the backpack during lunch time. The students claimed not to know that Hernandez had a hearing impairment, however, one of them was suspended and the other investigated. Hernandez’ mother told KMTV on Tuesday that she plans on filing a police report over what had happened to her son.
Omaha Public Schools District released a statement on KMTV with regards to the Burke High School incident saying that they take such circumstances with the utmost seriousness. Although privacy laws prevent the complete transparency of the investigation, they are working with all parties involved to ensure that the school be safe for all students. The institution claimed that the students involved have been disciplined and insinuated that it was not in fact a bullying incident but rather that of theft.
In the wake of what happened, the community and other students have shown support for Hernandez and started a GoFundMe page that catered to raising money to replace his school supplies that had been stolen and tarnished. Within four days of set up, the page reached its $800 goal.
Although Hernandez’ community has rallied behind him, along with many others across the country who may have donated, he still feels that he is unsafe at his school and is considering transferring to another. The student has had a hearing impairment since he was a one-year-old toddler and has consistently been the target of various bullying incidents.
He reported not to know who the students who took his bag were but wanted to speak to them along with their parents to shed light on the right thing to do.
The question that remains is why did the teens empty Hernandez backpack into the toilet, especially since they claimed not be aware of his disability? If they had stolen the bag and sold its contents, that would have been one case. However, to take and dump the belongings of a student living with a disability in a toilet is something reminiscent of a hate crime.
Source: KETV 7 ABC