The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 22, 2013

Family conveys bullying concerns to Carl Junction School Board

CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — After her 14-year-old son took his own life, Jessica Nugent wanted to do anything she could to keep such a tragedy from befalling other families.

Nugent said her son, Luke, had suffered through incidents of bullying in the past, and she believes that it led to his decision to commit suicide.

On Monday night, she asked the Carl Junction Board of Education to evaluate the school district’s policies on bullying to see whether more could be done by school officials and the community.

Joplin lawyer Tracey Martin addressed the board on behalf of the family. Martin said the district’s policies need to be updated and enforced to prevent another “tragic situation.”

“The school has a responsibility, as does the community,” Martin said. “We don’t want our community to be known for bullying. We want to be known as the community that stopped it.

“We need to involve the whole community.”

Rob Herron, school board president, said the board would work with “any available resource” it has.

“There will not be an obstacle in accomplishing this,” Herron said.

Nugent, accompanied by her husband, Mika, at the meeting, said Luke was an intelligent, humorous teenager who excelled at science and “studied everything he could get his hands on.” She said she had been contacted in the past month by many residents who have expressed concerns about bullying.

“People don’t just care about my son,” she said. “They care about the kids in the community. Now we’re going to step in and take some action to prevent this from ever happening to another family.”

After Luke’s suicide on March 16, several memorial pages were set up on Facebook and other websites. Jessica Nugent is the administrator of the “Luke Nugent Memorial” page on Facebook, which has collected 1,136 followers since going live on April 10. Several of her son’s supporters showed up at the board meeting sporting his trademark fedora. The fedora has become a symbol of anti-bullying in the school district.

“It is empowering to see it become a symbol of what good can come out of this,” Jessica Nugent said. “It was one of the things he was bullied for. They took it from him, ridiculed him for it because it was different. To see so many people wearing it now in a positive way is warming to us.”

Superintendent Phil Cook said in an interview Monday that there was a “concern” that school district officials investigated involving an allegation of bullying in Nugent’s case, but he said he could not elaborate.

Cook said the district is still evaluating the circumstances, though he does believe that more can be done to address bullying in the district.

“Do I believe Carl Junction schools have an issue?” Cook said. “Yes, but so does every other school in the nation. There is always more that can be done, and it is something we need to have more discussions on.”

The school district has an anti-bullying and anti-hazing policy in place. The policy states that “students participating in or encouraging inappropriate conduct will be disciplined,” which may include “suspension or expulsion from school.” The policy states that staff members must report incidents to the building principal. Staff members who violate the policy are also subject to discipline or firing.

The policy also includes provisions against cyberbullying and cyberthreats. The policy was adopted in 2004 and updated in 2007.


TRACEY MARTIN, a Joplin lawyer, said any liability issues between the school district and the family would be settled in private.

Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read


A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter