Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, December 08, 2001

School says girls wrote hate letter

Two girls, 12, will face punishment early next week

Aaron Sands
The Ottawa Citizen

A pair of 12-year-old girls identified as the authors of an anonymous hate letter delivered to a Grade 6 schoolmate's home have been barred from class pending punishment by their principal, expected to be meted out first thing next week.

School officials said a thorough investigation exposed the two students responsible for writing a letter filled with sexual profanity and wishing death upon Arthur Nikscin, 12, a Grade 6 student at Our Lady of Peace Catholic school in the city's west end.

Principal Dwight Delahunt notified the girls' parents Wednesday night. The students -- who are not in Arthur's class -- were told to remain at home until the principal determines the appropriate punishment.

James McCracken, director of education for the Catholic board, said the principal is considering a wide range of disciplinary avenues, from psychiatric counselling up to and including full expulsion.

"The parents of those students were met with," Mr. McCracken said. "The culprits have been found and they are being dealt with by the school. The principal and teachers together interviewed the students and eventually the truth came out."

The girls, whose identities are being withheld, addressed the letter to "Arthur the dummy" and snuck it into the mailbox of his family's west-end home. The message consisted of about 75 words that ridiculed the boy's appearance, his mother's nationality and his parents' income. With the word "Kill!" written 20 times around the edges of the letter, the anonymous message concluded: "I hope you Die!"

Horrified by the "disturbing" letter, school staff and an Ottawa police school resource officer launched an investigation, which included questioning suspected students and comparing the letter's handwriting to that of their 49 fellow Grade 6 pupils.

Mr. McCracken stressed it is premature to say what penalty the girls will face.

"We have to look at a number of factors, and the consequences will be given based on what has happened here. That's the judgment call of the principal. The decision will be made soon."

Arthur's mother, Jolanta Nikscin, said one of the two girls is the same student who constantly tormented Arthur about his appearance and Polish background on the school bus. The insults eventually motivated the boy to walk to school alone, rather than face abuse on the bus.

Concerned, Arthur's father reported the bullying to the school last year.

The letter was discovered in his family's mailbox two weeks ago. Scared for their son's life, Arthur's parents kept him away from school for a week while the school and Ottawa police investigated.

Ms. Nikscin said Arthur, who returned to school on Monday, is still woken with nightmares over the incident.

Thursday night, she said, he was repeating, "You'll have to talk to my principal" in his sleep.

"I think he would like to forget that it ever happened," Ms. Nikscin said. "He is saying everything at school is all right now. I think he is happy the problem is being solved."

© Copyright 2001 The Ottawa Citizen