Video: bully harasses autistic student as teacher does little to stop it

by Deon Osborne, Associate Editor
norman public schools bully autistic
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This article has been updated to include a statement from Norman Public Schools.

A school district in Oklahoma remains under fire after a Twitter video surfaced on January 20, depicting the bullying of an autistic 6th grader.

Nearly 2 million people have watched a disturbing video of a White student shoving and threatening a Black autistic student while the teacher does little to stop it.

“An autistic 6th grade boy named Joshua was physically attacked by his peer at Alcott Middle School in Norman, Oklahoma. This bully had been picking on Joshua for quite some time, he even had been jumping at Joshua in the hallways trying to “get him to flinch”, a Twitter user named Mya wrote in a post sharing the video.

Video shows bullying on full display

The video begins with the taller student walking over to Joshua, who is standing near his seat. The bully violently shoves Joshua while the teacher stands by like a deer caught in headlights.

As Joshua attempts to sit back down in his seat and block the blows coming his way, the bully moves around the teacher, who lazily extends his arm in between the two boys like a weak branch blowing in the wind.

Meanwhile, the bully continues shoving Joshua, goading him into a fight, while students look on, some of them smiling. At one point, a student tells the bully to “f*ck off.” 

“I’ll beat yo *ss, too”, the bully says to the other student. Clearly commanding the room with little intervention from the teacher, it takes another student to deescalate the situation. The video ends with a student walking the bully away from Joshua, performing a job that the teacher should’ve done.

Joshua (screenshot)

People react to disturbing video

Notable figures from Oklahoma Sooners football legend Bob Stoops to Atlanta Hawks basketball player Trae Young called out the bully’s disturbing actions.

“Come on Man, are you serious? Have some compassion and love for a brother! My man isn’t bothering you or anyone else! Like all bullies and cowards you only pick a fight you can win. WEAK!” Stoops tweeted.

F***ing Sad!! No kid should EVER have to go through this.. not physically capable enough to protect himself & the other kid knows that… !!! Somebody pls get me Joshua’s info,” Trae Young added.

Since the release of the video, thousands of people have shared it on social media, highlighting an issue prevalent in many schools across the U.S.

“Joshua was NOT supposed to be in this class,” Mya, the video sharer, posted. “His specialized learning teacher was not present the day of the incident & NPS failed to make sure there was a backup plan for Josh when his teacher wasn’t present, ultimately FORCING the young man into this situation.”

Norman Public Schools under fire

For their part, Norman Public Schools has yet to issue a public statement regarding the incident. However, in response to a request for comment, NPS sent the following statement to The Black Wall Street Times:

“We are aware of this incident and have taken the appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with our board policies and state law. We understand the upsetting nature of the situation and while we wish we could share more about exactly how this situation was handled, state law prevents us from publicly releasing student information.”

Meanwhile, in a video posted to Facebook, Joshua’s mother responded to the support her family has received.

“This boy’s been smiling from ear to ear knowing how many people is supporting him,” the mother said in a video as she and her son were about to get Chinese food.

“And he loves football, so I’ve been telling him about all the football players and the coaches” who showed support for him, she added.

Despite being self-described as the most progressive and inclusive community in Oklahoma, the city of Norman has struggled to make its schools inclusive for all. As a former sundown town which excluded Blacks from owning property in the city until the late 60s, Norman’s Public Schools has struggled to live up to the city’s ideals.

Black students in the district are more likely to receive in-school and out-of-school suspension than White students, despite making up only six percent of students, according to Civil Rights Data Collection from the Office for Civil Rights.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – APRIL 2: Natalie Armstrong (left) and her two daughters Payton and Payzlyn, along with her mother Katrina Sinor rally at the state capitol on April 2, 2018 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Thousands of teachers and supporters are scheduled to rally Monday at the state Capitol calling for higher wages and better school funding. Armstrong said she has spent $3,000 this year for school supplies Teachers are walking off the job after a $6,100 pay raise was rushed through the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

All eyes on Tuesday meeting at Norman administrative building

NPS does have a policy against bullying or harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and disability. Yet, only a few allegations of bullying have resulted in discipline as of 2017, the most recent year for which data was available.

“Joshua’s mother claims when it was all said and done, admins at Alcott MS refused to acknowledge her son was bullied, they instead told her “he got his pride hurt”. He was LITERALLY assaulted by someone twice his size,” Mya, the video sharer posted on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Joshua’s mother will attend a meeting at the Norman Public School’s administrative building at 1:30 p.m, located at 131 South Flood Avenue in Norman. She’s asked members of the community to show up in support.

To stay up to date on Joshua’s story, the family has created a Twitter account, Justice4Josh.


Christopher Mervyn January 24, 2022 - 7:03 pm

Please continue sharing this story anywhere you find it. Norman public schools sent out a statement to parents asking us to suppress this video and news. Make it clear that we, as parents, do not tolerate this behavior and won’t be bullied ourselves by the school system

Randy Wicklund January 25, 2022 - 7:14 pm

I am appalled at what happened to poor Joshua. What was the matter with this teacher? Why didn’t the teacher step in between the two rather than putting up a weak arm? This teacher needs to be terminated. The bully also was physically assaulting Joshua, the resource officer should have been called and the bully arrested. If he hasn’t been arrested then Joshua’s parents should file charges with the Norman police. The bully should also be expelled as this type of behavior does not stop with one instance. How many others have he bullied? And then for the school district to bully parents into keeping this quiet? Sounds like Norman needs a new group of administrators.

James Beaty February 3, 2022 - 4:55 pm

Teacher was a sub. No idea or training. I am from Norman, and connected with mom on Facebook. NPS has problems. Shiny outside, not so much under the surface.
I have applied for over 30 jobs with NPS. NEVER EVEN GET PAST INTERVIEW. I hold a Masters is Social Studies and am licensed to teach English as well.
They keep cycling through people, subs, because they don’t want to pay the extra for credentialed teachers above a bachelor’s. So this is what we end up with. Someone with no idea what an IEP is. Welcome to Oklahoma public schools.
I could tell you so much more….

Landers Chevrolet employees show White Power symbol in pic with NPS March 15, 2022 - 12:26 pm

[…] district recently came under fire after a viral video showed a Black, special needs student being bullied by a White student with little intervention from the substitute […]

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