By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Group backs mother who was arrested after posting video about bullying at Gainesville Middle School
12202019 NEWTOWN 4.jpg
Kelly Williams speaks during a Newtown Florist Club meeting Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, to discuss the incident involving Cirea Oliver, who has been charged with making terroristic threats against Gainesville Middle. - photo by Scott Rogers

Concerned mothers packed into the conference room Thursday night at Gainesville’s Newtown Florist Club to raise their voices in support of Cirea Oliver, who was charged this week with making terroristic threats after posting a video railing against Gainesville Middle School on Facebook. 

The group of mothers call themselves Parents Rebuilding the Village. Kelly Williams, a member of the organization, said they formed it because of their concerns about bullying in the school district. 

Oliver says in the video that she made it in response to her son being bullied. 

12202019 NEWTOWN 2.jpg
Deshayla Bush speaks Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, at the Newtown Florist Club during a meeting to discuss the incident involving Cirea Oliver, who has been charged with making terroristic threats against Gainesville Middle. - photo by Scott Rogers

Williams said the group wants to make sure their children receive a quality education, and they are committed to helping “rebuild this village.”

Williams stated the purpose of the meeting, loud and clear. 

“We stand in solidarity today in support of … Oliver, whose son was the target of continuous bullying,” Williams said. “We want to ensure that she and her son receive the support and have the resources she has so desperately cried for.”

Williams followed with a warning to parents. 

“No matter how distressed you are, you cannot and must not make threats intended to harm another person on Facebook or any other social media,” Williams said. “It is a criminal offense and you will be arrested.”

Oliver’s video was posted about 12:30 p.m. Monday.

12202019 NEWTOWN 3.jpg
Chris Randolph speaks Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 during a Newtown Florist Club meeting to discuss the incident involving Cirea Oliver, who has been charged with making terroristic threats against Gainesville Middle. - photo by Scott Rogers

“It wasn’t too long after that that our officers were informed of this video that went live, where she does make threats,” Gainesville Police Cpl. Jessica Van said.

Van said comments in the video were “insinuating that she was going to shoot multiple people at the school.” In the video, which was obtained by The Times, Oliver says she has voiced her concerns to teachers and the principal “numerous times.”

Oliver’s mom, Kimberly Ruffin also spoke on behalf of her daughter. Ruffin thanked the organization for supporting Oliver. 

“She didn’t know she had this much love in Gainesville,” she said. 

Ruffin said she felt as though her grandson’s problem was swept under the rug by the school system. 

She said Oliver did all she could to help her son, including contacting the school on multiple occasions and finding him a counselor, psychiatrist and mentor. But, nothing stopped the bullying. 

“We did the steps that we’re supposed to do, but it still kept happening the eight hours he was at school,” Ruffin said. “ … What are we supposed to do? I’m sorry to say, it (Gainesville City Schools) ain’t doing the job for me and my grandson.”

Earlier this week, Superintendent Jeremy Williams said the school cannot speak to specific student situations, but the district uses established procedures for bullying.

“Our focus is ensuring supports are available to students if needed,” Williams said. “We encourage our students and staff to inform appropriate personnel when the potential for services arise.”

Willie_Mitchell.jpg
Willie Mitchell

But Willie Mitchell, a member of Gaineseville’s school board who attended the meeting, was more blunt.

“I do feel as a school board member that the school system dropped the ball on this one,” Mitchell said. 

He gave the group of mothers some suggestions for shining light on Oliver’s situation and dealing with bullying. 

He encouraged them to look over the district’s bullying policies, then come before the school board. Mitchell told the group to let the board know that they dropped the ball and explain what they can do to improve the situation.

He also advised them to gather proof showing that Oliver contacted teachers and Gainesville Middle’s principal on multiple occasions. 

“I think this is a great beginning,” Mitchell said. “Rose (The Rev. Johnson) knows I’ve always said that the only way that we’re going to get our fair share in the school system is not by this person that you elected to be on the board, but by the community and us working together to make that happen. I applaud y’all for doing this. You’ve got all the support that I can give you.”

Parents Rebuilding the Village will have a community meeting about school bullying and discipline with superintendent Willliams and a panel of community leaders at 6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 30, at the Fair Street Neighborhood Center. 

If parents want to discuss the problems they’re having with their school system, the organization encourages them to call Newtown Florist Club’s office at 770-718-1343 or email newtown193@gmail.com.

Captions have been updated on this article from the original versions.

12202019 NEWTOWN 1.jpg
Kimberly Ruffin gets emotional while speaking Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, during a Newtown Florist Club meeting Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019, discussing the incident involving Ruffin's daughter, Cirea Oliver, who who has been charged with making terroristic threats against Gainesville Middle. - photo by Scott Rogers