The Canadian Press

ASSINIBOIA, Sask. — A five-year-old Saskatchewan boy who lost a leg in a lawn mower accident is being bullied on the school bus and school officials aren’t helping, argues the boy’s father.

Robert Coomber says his son, Ryan, got a black eye after being hit by an older student on the bus ride between the school in Assiniboia and the family home in Willow Bunch, about two hours southwest of Regina.

“I asked him why. He said it was because he was singing,” said Coomber.

Coomber said he called the older student’s parents but they were unwilling to help. The next call was to the RCMP.

“The RCMP came and took photos of Ryan’s face and said that we were in full rights to press charges, but we decided not to, that we would let the school handle it instead of putting this kid through the justice system,” said Coomber. “Instead of handling it, they removed Ryan from the bus because they said it was unsafe for him.”

Coomber said there was no co-operation from staff at Ryan’s school or at the older student’s school, which he said “refused outright to discipline the child in any way.” Ryan’s school goes up to Grade 4 and the older student’s school covers Grades 5 to 8, but they share a bus.

Coomber said an official with the Prairie South School Division told him that it would be best if he drove Ryan the 50 kilometres each way to kindergarten.

The frustrated father says it’s not the first time Ryan has been bullied on the bus and he’s just one of many victims.

“It’s usually pushing, shoving, taking his bag, taking his winter clothes. The first kid actually tried to pull his prosthetic leg from him. And this is a joke to everyone … in the system,” said Coomber.

“All my boy’s trying to do is to have his right to an education and to a safe environment.”

“He was singing on the bus. They tell children from the youngest of ages about singing and singing about buses, ‘The wheels on the bus go round and round.’ So you start singing on the bus and that gives a person the right to belt you in the face hard enough to give you a black eye. That doesn’t seem right. So when we complained, we were just trying to make right by Ryan and unfortunately it was completely ignored.”

The Prairie South School Division said it couldn’t talk about specific student issues because of privacy laws, but a spokeswoman said there are anti-bullying policies in place and a process to resolve disputes.

Saskatchewan Education Minister Ken Krawetz said an investigation is underway to find out what happened.

“Until that is complete, I don’t think the board of education will be jumping to any conclusions. The short-term solution, I guess, was to ensure that there be no further antagonism between students and to ensure that the parents were able to drive the student to school,” said Krawetz.

Krawetz said school boards have policies to ensure safe environments and that extends to school buses.

Ryan was run over by a riding lawn mower in May 2008. His left leg needed to be amputated below the knee as well as four toes on his right foot. His thigh bone was broken on his right side and his pelvis was shattered. The spinning blade cut out a portion of his liver, some muscle on his chest and muscle on his buttocks.

Ryan spent a year and thousands of hours learning to walk with the prosthetic limb. Coomber said now his son is struggling to understand this situation.

“Mentally he’s OK. He’s a little confused about why he’s not allowed on the bus any more and he’s kind of bummed out that he doesn’t get to see his friends on the bus,” said Coomber.

Coomber taken earlier by Canadian Press