By Joseph Pratt
A large community turnout appeared before the Minford Local School District Board of Education Monday, in light of the recent suicide of Johnathon Scaff, 13, who took his life July 16 after parents claim he allegedly suffered from bullying.
The Minford Local Board of Education moved their regular monthly meeting from Monday, July 21, to Monday, July 28, after locals requested the adjustment be made around the funeral services of Scaff.
Prior to the meeting’s start Monday evening, the packed house was made aware of the rules of the public participation section of the meeting. They were stressed on the fact that, while frustration was understandable, any violence would result in the dismissal of the involved parties.
The parents of Scaff, friends, and Minford alumni all stood one at a time and spoke their minds on the situation. Demands were made, and more stories on past alleged bullying were told. Speakers even crossed over the 30 minute allotted time for public participation.
Trisha Scaff, mother of Johnathon, claims she confronted two school officials last school year over bullying. She claims that one school official told her that Johnathon did report bullying, but wouldn’t give the names of the students doing so. She also claims another official told her that if Johnathon wasn’t her son, he would have been suspended for his behavior long before he was. Scaff claims her son was suspended for fighting when he was only taking up for himself during the prior school year.
Scaff demanded four actions be taken against bullying in light of her son’s death. She wants the two school officials she spoke of reprimanded, she wants “new and harsher” punishments for students who commit bullying acts, better “programs and things to do for students, to lift them up and show bullying isn’t cool,” and petitions to be signed by all students, so they know the reality bullying can cause.
While the school could give no comments on the issues of alleged bullying, Board President Mike Gampp did say he believed not all of Scaff’s demands could be met.
“The Minford Local School District Board of Education, its administration, staff, and students are mourning the loss of a student,” a release by the Board read. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the child’s family and friends. Protecting the safety and well-being of all students continues to be the top priority for all our staff. When a student in our community is faced with adversity, it is our hope that he or she will share that information with our administrators, counselors, teachers, or support staff, so we can take steps to address the situation and provide support for the student.”
Minford is currently providing grief counseling, and plan on continuing it through the summer and into the new school year.
“This is a tragic event and we will continue to cooperate with investigators and to offer support to students, staff, and all who are deeply affected by this loss,” the school’s public statement concluded.
The Scioto County Sheriff Department is currently investigating the death of Scaff. The death investigation entails the coroner’s report and interviews with family and those involved in the incident. There has been an allegation that a comment was made during a football practice, but the Scioto Council Sheriff’s Office has said no proof has come forward and nothing had been confirmed.
The incident remains under investigation by the sheriff’s office and the school.
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.