23 Aug 2014
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School Officials Consider Security Cameras in Wake of Bullying Incident

The parents of Kaylie Castillo, 16, had offered $1,000 for information leading to capture of their daughter's bullies. And district officials are considering additional security cameras.

School Officials Consider Security Cameras in Wake of Bullying Incident

The mother of a Los Alamitos High School student -- a student who was bullied so much her parents offered a cash reward for any information leading to the identification of the girl's tormenters -- said she remains in limbo as local authorities investigate her daughter's case.

In the meantime, police are examining evidence, and school district officials have considered adding additional security cameras to campuses to record potential crimes and prevent anonymous acts of bullying.

Los Alamitos resident Tracie Castillo said she wants justice for her harassed daughter, 16-year-old Kaylie Castillo but finds it hard to wait for police to find the bullies.

"They (officials) just keep telling me the same thing: that they're just looking into it," Tracie Castillo said. "It's kind of frustrating."

Witnesses said someone placed a photo of a naked woman with Kaylie's head pasted onto it inside a number of lockers at the high school in early December. Someone also faked sexually explicit text messages in her name.

A spokesman for the Los Alamitos Police Department said officers are continuing their investigation after Kaylie reported a number of incidents of harassment.

“I did talk to a detective that is investigating it, and he’s supposed to let me know if anything comes up,” Tracie Castillo said.

She said her daughter is waiting, too.

“I think that she definitely wants to find out who was doing it, but at the same time, I think she’s just a little worried about that now because it’s gotten so big,” she said.

Castillo added that her daughter is also concerned about possible retaliation. Still Kaylie is doing her best to move on despite the bullying, said her mother.

“She’s going to school every day, she’s trying to get back to her normal routine,” Tracie Castillo said, “She wants it all to be over, and I explained to her that we have to make sure that this doesn’t happen to somebody else."

According to Tracie Castillo, the incidents began a year ago after Thanksgiving, but she’s not sure if the older incidents were committed by the same people responsible for the latest spat of anonymous bullying.

In the first instance, someone left a live mouse in Kaylie’s locker. Another time someone painted “slut” on the Castillos' driveway and poured a mix of feces and oatmeal on the front porch.

Kaylie’s parents told CBS News they were offering $1,000 for information that would identify the people responsible for harassing their daughter. According to Tracie Castillo, the amount has since been raised to $1,700 because people have donated funds.

According to Captain Bruce McAlpine, spokesman for the Los Al Police Department, bullying incidents are usually handled by the school administration, but sometimes, like in this instance, the police step in.

“Bullying by itself not a crime,” McAlpine said. “Our role is to determine whether any type of crimes may have occurred and then investigate those. There’s no (criminal) code related to bullying on the books, but there is reference to that behavior in the education code.”

The term "bullying" can describe a number of types of actions, ranging from insults (not necessarily illegal, depending on the insult) to physical abuse (illegal).

To learn more about bullying in California's Education code, click www.stopbullying.gov/laws/california.html.

No arrests have been made in the case, according to McAlpine.

The Los Alamitos Unified School District has been working with police in any way it can, according to Superintendent Sherry Kropp.

“We investigated leads that we get, and we turn over (to police) everything we get,” Kropp said. “The district takes reports of bullying extremely seriously. And we’re following up every lead, and we’re keeping the police up to speed.”

So far, two Los Alamitos High School students have been disciplined, but Kropp said she was unable to reveal further information about student disciplinary actions.

Kropp said that the district has also been supporting the Castillo family and letting them know that they’re doing everything they can to help.

According to Kropp, the district has a bullying prevention task force, made up of parents, teachers, administrators and citizens that reach out to students to help them prevent bullying and hold bullies accountable. 

The district also celebrates “Peace Week,” an entire five days devoted to teaching children and teens about how to report bullying.

Kropp said before the incident the district was already considering adding more security cameras to a number of schools, and that the cameras would have been helpful in the Castillo incident.

In the wake of the incidents, Patch spoke with .

Kropp said instance such as the pornographic pictures in the lockers are rare in the district. But “even one case of bullying is one too many,” she added.

“The number doesn’t matter,” she added. “Bullying matters. It matters that we eradicate bullying for all kids.”

Anyone with information about the incidents cans call the Los Alamitos Police Department at 562-431-2255 or Los Alamitos High School Principal Josh Arnold at 562-799-4780.

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