Anti-bullying video dropped after Sparks shooting

SPARKS — The Washoe County School District has discontinued the use of an anti-bullying video that was shown to students at Sparks Middle School, including the 12-year-old gunman responsible for a fatal schoolyard shooting weeks after he watched it.

The 23-minute, documentary-style video entitled “Teen Truth” dramatizes a student taking a gun on a school bus to scare aggressors. It also features real security footage from the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School.

Sparks seventh-grader Jose Reyes had images of the Columbine killers on his cellphone the day he fatally shot a teacher, wounded two classmates and committed suicide on Oct. 21, police said.

A Reno newspaper reports the school district has stopped using the video as part of an anti-bullying program that has been in place district-wide since 2006.

“Since the bullies don’t see how much they hurt me I’ll find my own way to express the pain,” a student says in “Teen Truth.”

“They will be sorry they picked on me,” he says, as he pulls a gun out of his backpack. Gun shots can be heard as a teacher on a 911 call screams for students to get under the tables.

Sparks police interviewed staff and students who said they saw “Teen Truth.” Also in the investigation, a teacher said Reyes was not part of a follow-up discussion about the video in September.

“The district is moving in the directions of social and emotional learning and away from — which we were already planning on doing — this type of stuff,” Director of Counseling for the District Katherine Loudon told the Reno newspaper on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of programs in the past that have shown people some of the darker side of things,” she said.

Loudon said school officials are closely looking at all material as the district and community recovers from the events of Oct. 21.

“We are looking at all of our curriculum,” she said. “We teach Romeo and Juliet, which is about suicide.”

Loudon said “Teen Truth” was purchased through a grant from U.S. Department of Education and was usually shown to students in October as part of anti-bullying month. New curriculum will be reviewed by a committee and likely approved by the school board, she said.


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