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Charter student challenges expulsion for fighting, says he was bullying victim

Romeo Glover, a junior at Tacony Charter High School, said he quietly endured bullying for months from another male student who taunted him almost every day, calling him gay and making slurs because he has long hair.

Romeo Glover with his parents, Fatima and Randy. The junior at Tacony Charter High School says he quietly endured bullying for months.
Romeo Glover with his parents, Fatima and Randy. The junior at Tacony Charter High School says he quietly endured bullying for months.Read moreDAVID SWANSON / Staff Photographer

Romeo Glover, a junior at Tacony Charter High School, said he quietly endured bullying for months from another male student who taunted him almost every day, calling him gay and making slurs because he has long hair.

While waiting at a bus stop after school on Jan. 8, Glover said, the student showed him a pocketknife and warned him to stay away from a young woman Glover was dating. Then, Glover said, the student and others attacked. He said he was punched in the head and kicked after he blacked out and fell to the ground.

Even though the assault was witnessed by four neighborhood residents who gave statements and Glover had a police report and records from Nazareth Hospital where he was treated for bruises, Tacony suspended and later expelled him.

He and his parents said a Tacony board member who attended the expulsion hearing earlier this month berated Glover for not reporting the bullying at the outset. A counselor told him it was his fault the assault happened because he had not told about the abuse.

"I'm the one that got bullied, but I got expelled," said Glover, 17. "It's not right. I want to be in school so I can go to college after that. I get good grades. I get A's and B's."

The findings-of-fact that the Tacony board adopted before voting to expel Glover on Feb. 8 said some students told the principal that Glover and two others had attacked the alleged bully.

But following an emergency hearing in Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, the judge ordered Tacony to readmit Glover immediately while he awaits a full court hearing on his expulsion appeal in April.

The charter school's lawyer and the top official at the nonprofit that manages Tacony would not discuss the case.

"Regretfully, I am unable to comment at this time due to legal restrictions," Jurate Krokys, CEO of American Paradigm Schools, wrote in an email on Friday.

Glover said he told no one about the problems that he had had with the other student since 10th grade.

"I just wanted it to go away," he said. "I was scared he would bully me and mess with me."

Glover said he put up with a steady diet of taunts about his hair. " 'You're gay,' 'I'm going to beat you up,' " he recalled, saying the other student had used a slur.

The other student, Glover said, even threw erasers down a stairwell at his head while he was changing classes.

Glover said others observed the taunts but were too frightened to say anything because the other student was popular and had a reputation for fighting.

Although Glover did not use the word "bullying," he said he told principal Naimah Holliday about being pelted with erasers. He said she brushed it off, saying, " 'You're not hurt.' "

The tension increased when Glover began dating a young woman the other student knew.

Glover said the other student warned him to stay away and said "I'm going to beat you up if you get near her."

Everything came to a head on Jan. 8 while Glover was waiting at a bus stop on Torresdale Avenue after school. The other student walked up, showed him a pocketknife and told Glover to stay away from the young woman.

When an older teen walked by, Glover said, he told the two "to cut it out," and kicked the knife out of the other student's hand.

The other student punched Glover in the face. Glover said he defended himself by hitting back once. Then a female friend of the other student's pulled Glover's hair and pummeled him on the side of his head.

Glover said he doesn't know what happened next because he lost consciousness and fell to the ground.

Randy Glover often picks up his son from school but was late that day. He said he was driving down Torresdale looking for him when he spotted a large group of teens fighting and pulled over.

"Everybody was hitting everybody," Randy Glover said. "I didn't realize my son was in the middle of it. I just pulled over, and I got out of the car because I saw so many kids and nobody was doing anything about it."

Randy Glover said he told the students to break it up. That's when he spotted his son.

"I see my son on the ground getting pounded along with other kids," Randy Glover said. "So I pull my son up. I pull other kids up."

The teens scattered.

Randy Glover said he put his son in the car and saw "he was all bruised up."

He was starting to head to Nazareth Hospital when a woman who had witnessed the attack beckoned him over to make sure the teen was all right. They exchanged phone numbers.

Randy Glover said: "That's how I got the first" witness.

The younger Glover was treated at Nazareth for swelling and bruises of his face, head, neck, jaw, ears, and back, and pain throughout his body. The hospital prescribed pain killers and a muscle relaxant. Randy Glover then drove his son to the Northeast Detectives Division to file a report.

The next school day, Randy and Fatima Glover went to Tacony's campus at 6201 Keystone St. to explain that their son was not in school because he had been beaten up and was recovering.

They said Holliday, the principal, told them to write a statement about what happened and bring it to school the next day. They said she called back later that day to say Glover was being suspended for fighting.

They said the principal called back a second time to tell them not to bring a report to the school. The Glovers said Holliday told them she was giving them advance warning that she was going to recommend that their son be expelled.

They said Holliday - who had not yet talked to Romeo Glover - advised them to start looking for other schools. If Glover transferred on his own, she said, what happened would not appear on his academic record, but an expulsion would.

The Glovers demanded to know why she wanted to expel their son, and say they were told: " 'because he and his friends jumped a student.' "

When Randy Glover told her the family had evidence to disprove that, he alleges, Holliday told him that it didn't matter because she had told them what she was going to do.

Romeo Glover was suspended for 10 days. During that period, Holliday collected unsigned written statements from several friends of the other student's who said that Glover had been the attacker.

Holliday did not respond to an email seeking comment.

At an expulsion hearing Feb. 2 at Tacony, no witnesses testified in support of the school's account. The school said none of the students who gave statements to Holliday appeared because their parents did not want them to testify.

Laurie R. Jubelirer, Glover's lawyer, said the students' absence prevented her from being able to question them.

During the hearing, Glover talked about the bullying and explained what happened at the bus stop. Randy Glover described what he saw when he arrived. Two of the adult witnesses testified on Glover's behalf and described the knife they had observed. Two more witnesses submitted written statements supporting Glover.

That day, Tacony's lawyer submitted his findings-of-fact that concluded that Glover had taken part in a group assault of another student.

On Feb. 5, Tacony's board adopted those findings and expelled Glover.

His appeal alleges that Tacony's decision was based entirely on hearsay evidence with no corroboration. Documents Jubelirer filed in court also say that the charter failed to follow its own code of conduct because it suspended and moved to expel Glover without hearing from him.

After nearly seven weeks, Glover returned to school on Wednesday.

"I was relieved," he said. "I was happy."

Jubelirer and Tacony's lawyer are arranging for him to make up the work he missed. 215-854-2789 @marwooda