PITTSBURG, Calif. (KTVU) - Seven-year-old Justin Keys is a second grader at Stoneman Elementary in Pittsburg.
He's polite, athletic and motivated. However, his mother, Shannon Riley, says his behavior changed in early January when she learned from a teacher that he was being bullied.
"She told me that Justin was kicked in the head and had a knot on his head and was sent to the principal and nothing happened," Riley said.
Justin, a bit reluctant to talk about it, says he's been defending himself against two second grade boys.
"One time I was just walking and they came up to me and pushed me so I pushed them back," said Justin.
"Justin had begun to completely shut down. He's an A student. His teacher will tell you. He wouldn't do his work he would sit in there and cry," Riley said.
His mother says she contacted Principal Terry Dunne on Jan .28 and took her son out of school saying the principal had no way of ensuring his safety.
"I said, 'What happened when Justin got the knot on his head when he was dragged across the school ground being kicked and beaten by these two?'" Riley said. "He said, 'Again, I dropped the ball and I apologize,' " Riley said.
Riley said she was getting nowhere with the district but was assured by educators that Justin would be safe.
"I put him back at school and first recess he gets kicked and I don't even want to tell you what they called him," she said. "This principal is not doing anything to protect these kids."
Riley contacted KTVU for help. In a statement, the Pittsburg Unified School District said it is "aware of the situation and has been working with the family on a resolution. We have no further comment."
Immediately after, Riley said she started seeing some results. She met with the superintendent and the parents of the children involved.
A "no-contact" contract is in the works but she says the penalties offer no protection.
"If he is to harm my son again he has to clean the cafeteria," Riley said of the alleged bully.
Still, Justin says he doesn't feel safe at school.
"No I don't want to go back to school because I feel like he is going to bully me again," he said.
Riley said the other parents haven't signed the no=contact contract and until more is done to make her son feel safe, he will remain being home schooled.
KTVU followed up with the district after this story aired March. 16. They released this new statement:
"We take any reported incidents of bullying very seriously as well as any incident when students are not getting along. Our goal is always to teach children how to interact with each other while we are also applying appropriate and fair consequences for behaviors to all involved.
Regarding this specific situation, we can confirm that there have been multiple meetings with the mother of this child, as well as contacts and meetings with the mothers of the other children. We want her son to return to school. Every parent deserves to know that their child is safe while in our schools, and we are committed to continue trying to work with the child and his family to offer the assurances needed and appropriate to ensure his return to school.
In answer to your question about counseling: we have therapists at all of our school sites for our students; parent permission is required. "