Monday, April 28, 2008

Parent of teen who killed self promises vigil in capital

Parent of teen who killed self promises vigil in capital

By Jason Wermers • • April 27, 2008

Debbie Johnston, who has led an effort to get a state law passed requiring school districts to do more to prevent bullying and harassment of students, will be in Tallahassee today to lobby for the passage of a bully bill.

The bill, known as the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act, is awaiting a possible vote on the Senate floor. That vote would have to take place this week if the bill is to have a chance to become law because the legislative session ends Friday.

Jeffrey Johnston of Cape Coral committed suicide in June 2005, at age 15, after enduring more than two years of cyberbullying from a classmate.

Debbie Johnston, now 50 and a first-grade teacher at Hector A. Cafferata Jr. Elementary in Cape Coral, will be with 12 students, including some of Jeff’s best friends, to make sure senators know how important it is to her and children across the state that the bill come to the floor for a vote.

“It’s very important because I don’t want anyone to go through what we went through — to lose everyone’s best friend and my uncle,” said Danny Pierson, 16, a freshman at Cypress Lake High.

Debbie Johnston led a two-van crew to Tallahassee on Sunday evening. Two more vans, led by Mariner Middle School guidance counselor Kathleen Saucier were scheduled to leave this afternoon to take 12 more students to the capital.

A crew from ABC television’s “Good Morning America” was at Johnston’s house Sunday to do a feature on her experience and the anti-bullying bill. The feature is expected to air sometime this week. The local Kiwanis Club donated $1,000 to help with the costs of the trip.

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