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Parents react to the violent bullying in Union County Schools; Director of Schools resigns

Parents say the bullying is occurring in the county's middle and high schools.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Union County's director of schools, Dr. James Carter resigned and walked out of a school board meeting Thursday night. He left right after several parents gave testimony of their children's experiences being bullied at school. 

Thursday's meeting was met with a lot of anticipation. During the previous school board meeting on May 12, school board members addressed the 'tip of the iceberg' of the bullying issue. The in-depth discussion was intended for June 9. 

Jason Mills, a parent of children in the school district didn't attend the meeting, but he was able to watch it live online. 

"I had a child, who was going to the high school, and I had a child in the middle school this past year and last few years," Mills said.

He's very familiar with the history of bullying within the district. He also said it is taking place at both Horace Maynard Middle School and Union County High School.

"It's been going on for several years," Mills said. "My oldest son was bullied as well, and he's been graduated for several years now."

However, he said there's been one major change since his oldest son graduated. Social media now plays a major factor in bullying.

An Instagram account called @UCHS_Fights is documenting a lot of the violence within the hall of the middle and high school. The account is private, but Mills follows it and was able to show 10News some of the graphic content. 

"It seems more children have decided that they wanted to make videos, and so they're just fighting in the bathrooms just for the sake of fighting just because you want to be on an Instagram page," Mills said.

The page has over 800 followers. It has posted nearly two dozen videos. Mills believes more than one student has access to the page. 

"It has progressively gotten worse. And it's getting more violent," Mills said. "That's an issue for the safety of our children. It's an issue that shouldn't have ever escalated this far before something got done."

This isn't the first time bullying in this school district made headlines. Back in 2017, Keaton Jones went viral talking about his experience of being bullied for his looks. 

RELATED: Keaton Jones's mom reacts to social media response on bullying post

Mills says he believes it's a failure across the board in Union County.

"There has to be somebody to stand up for the victims - from parents at home to the school administration, to the school superintendent's office, to the entire school board," Mills said.

Mills knows it's not an overnight fix. But, he hopes some progress can be made to make the schools safer for children.

"I think that Union County is a good place. And I think if we move in the right direction, that can be a great place," Mills said. 

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