SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) -Ma’Kala Young-Williams, 11, was smart, athletic and loved to sing.
She was just as tough as the boys on the football field.
And Ma’Kala had a megawatt smile, so bright, she could light up any room.
The outgoing sixth-grader at Elysian Fields Middle School had dreams of becoming an engineer.
“She was just so perfect,” says her mother, Stephanie Williams.
But Ma’Kala was dealing with more than just your typical English and math problems in school. She was fighting something in silence, much bigger and much stronger. Her parents learned she was battling bullies.
“The bullying is out of control,” said her father, LaDarien Williams.
Over the summer, Ma’Kala confided in an adult church member that she was being bullied. She described how her long locks were pulled and how she was called names.
Two weeks ago, an incident on the school bus finally broke her down.
It got to be too much and Ma’Kala ended her life.
Her parents say she never told them what was going on. She would always remain positive and never said anything negative.
LaDarien recalls the day that forever changed his life. It was the same day as the incident on the school bus.
Ma’Kala never mentioned it to her parents.
LaDarien left home that evening with Ma’Kala’s younger brother for football practice. They were just five minutes down the road when he got a disturbing call from her older brother, LaDarien recalled.
“He called me and told me Ma’Kala shot herself. I said say it again. I turned around came back home. ... I ran in and she was on the floor, no expression in her face.”
Since that day, it has been a living nightmare for the Williams family.
On Saturday, Oct. 5, LaDarien and Stephanie walked down an aisle at New Boggy Baptist Church in Bethany, La., for a final farewell.
“I was always like ‘I’m going to walk her down the aisle one day for her wedding'," her father said. "Instead, I walked down and my princess is gone from this Earth.”
Stephanie says her daughter put her faith in the school system, but the system failed her daughter.
Elysian Fields ISD Superintendent Maynard Chapman said they are investigating.
He told KSLA News 12 that on the day of the incident, there is no documentation regarding Ma’Kala reporting any bullying.
When asked whether it is possible that something did happen, Ma’Kala reported it and some way it did not get documented, Chapman said he couldn’t answer that question because he wasn’t there.
The superintendent said his office relies on teachers and principals to document and report any cases of bullying to his office.
When asked whether bullying is an issue at the elementary, middle and high schools, Chapman answered, “Not a major one.”
But more than 100 people with children in the school district disagree.
The same day of KSLA News 12′s interview, parents packed an auditorium for a School Board meeting.
During public remarks, a spokesperson for the Williams family went to the podium and asked how many people were there to support Ma’Kala or were there because their child is a victim of bullying.
Nearly everyone in the auditorium stood.
Many of the parents shared their child’s story of bullying at school.
But Ma’Kala’s father believes the issue will be swept under the rug.
And her mother said even after Ma’Kala’s death, other parents reportedly have told her that their children still are being bullied.
Texas law requires schools to include bullying and cyberbullying in their student code of conduct handbooks, which should include bullying prevention policies and procedures.
The principal has the authority to transfer a student to another classroom. The parent also can request a transfer for the victim.
Elysian Fields Independent School District provides a copy of its policies and procedures, which mirror the state requirements, on its website.
Ma’Kala’s parents said they will fight for change to make stricter bullying laws.
Chapman told the crowd in the auditorium that he is working to ensure all buses have school bus monitors by next week.