A Texas father is hitting the streets to support his son, who he says is being punished for standing up to a bully.
Randy Duke of Victoria, Texas, walks for a couple of hours each day in front of Cade Middle School carrying a sign that reads "Bullying victims are punished here," reports KHOU.
Duke's 14-year-old son, Max, was disciplined for allegedly fighting with a student who had been bullying him, Duke said.
"He's at the point where [he said], 'Dad, I couldn't walk away, 'cause he just follows me and beats up on me all the time,'" Duke told KHOU. "Then when he finally has to take matters into his own hands, he gets punished."
Duke said what set Max off was when the eighth-grader who had been bullying him for several years stomped on a paper airplane Max had made in art class for a special-needs child.
"So Max just looked up and said, 'What the hell?' The kid shoved Max. Max had had enough. And that just snapped him, and he shoved back, and they started into it," Duke said.
Max, who is also in eighth grade, served a two-day suspension and was sent to an alternative school in the district.
Local school district officials declined to comment on the disciplinary issue, citing privacy laws, according to the Victoria Advocate.
The district has detailed procedures for handling bullying and fighting, the newspaper reported. One option is to send students participating in a fight to the alternative school for 30 days, the Advocate noted.
Duke says that means his son won't be able to participate in the marching band.
"This opened him up," Duke said to KHOU. "After years of bullying, he had closed into a shell. This started bringing him out of his shell. He was making friends. He had something to look forward to."
Since he cannot appeal the district's decision, Duke has taken to picketing on the sidewalks near the school to protest its stance.
And on one day, Brent Knalls and his family stopped to talk to Duke, the Advocate reported.
"I like what he's doing," Knalls said. "We're from East Texas. This would have been handled there. Here it's been ignored."
Randy Duke is a Navy veteran recently returned from the Middle East after training Afghan police officers for the last year.
"I left one war and came back to another," Duke told the Advocate. "This is not about this one bully; this is about the school district not standing up and doing something about it."