RANDOLPH, NY (WNY News Now) – A group of local school students are speaking out about a gym teacher with a history of allegedly body shaming her students.
We spoke exclusively to a group of students at Randolph High School who say their gym teacher verbally abuses them based on appearance and personal biases.
“It’s horrible,“ explained Kaydance Mendez, a 14-year-old 9th grader. “She will call me lazy because I have a medical note to sit out in gym. And she’ll tell me that I need to get up and play when I have a medical note not to play in gym. And then she’ll also body shame me whenever I change into my gym clothes when I’m able to play, she’ll tell me I need to lose weight and shew won’t lift me up or tell me any health exercises I can do to lose weight.”
“Just to add on, she’s just disrespectful to her students and even to her other staff members,” stated Jessica Nomes, 17-year-old Junior. “She’s not very kind to us.”
Many of these high schoolers have since been kicked out of gym class after speaking out about Mrs. Nickelson’s alleged abuse. Instead, they participate in what’s known as an “online gym.”
“So, I’ve had a few altercations with her,“ explained recent graduate Kelly Dubuc. “I don’t quite remember them all, but I do remember there being a problem with my grade, and me missing school and having to write essays to make up the gym class because she wouldn’t allow me to go down and do it in my spare time.”
This is not a new occurrence, as some parents tell us the allegations are multigenerational.
“It wasn’t surprising to me when I found out who she was,“ stated parent Tyfeny Briggs. “And I found out she was a teacher when I was in school. And then it was all like oh she is still the same.”
The group created a petition to try and stop the bullying and harassment. Ultimately, the students want to participate and would like an apology from Nickelson.
“Not only should she have to apologize to her students, but I think that it needs to be taken further,“ said Nomes. “Something should be put into place so this doesn’t happen again. So she doesn’t get the opportunity to do it again.”
In a statement, the district confirmed they are investigating this matter and will take appropriate action if warranted, however, the school’s superintendent Kaine Kelly tells us he is not permitted to speak publicly about specifics of employees or students.
The full statement is posted below:
“The District expects its employees and students to be a positive representative and role models of the District to one another and throughout the community. Whenever the District receives a complaint or concern about any student or employee of the District, it looks into the matter pursuant to the District’s policies or Code of Conduct. After looking into the matter, the District takes appropriate action when deemed necessary. The District does not comment on any matter pertaining to a specific employee or student of the District.”
The group of parents and students plan on attending the school board of education’s meeting this Wednesday to bring concerns to the Board.