WHITBY, Ont. -- Morgan Jones should be in class at R.A. Sennett Public School. It's where she belongs. It's where she should safely be.
Instead, the 13-year-old remains at home, as she has for the past three weeks, going over her Grade 7 studies with her mother because she is too frightened to return to school.
Yet another victim of bullying and a school administration that does too little, too late.
In August, her family moved from Nova Scotia into this tough neighbourhood, but the first half of Morgan's school year was uneventful. It was only after Christmas that, for some inexplicable reason, a classmate suddenly drew a target on her back.
It began with text messages telling her not to come back to school or she'd get beaten up.
"I told her to ignore it and turn off her phone," recalls her mom Laurie Jones.
Then came the Facebook threats, including one that if she came to a pre-teen dance in town, she'd be "Morgan 'Rest in Peace' Jones."
With her daughter now afraid to go to school, Jones picked up the phone and called principal Al Drennan.
He spoke with the bully and reassured Morgan's worried parents that he would keep an eye on their daughter. So the frightened teen returned to school.
But there are few things as cruel as teenage girls.
The taunts turned physical. Three ganged up on her in gym class and pelted her with bean bags when the teacher stepped out.
"Then she started rumours saying I stink and I don't take showers. Everybody believed her and I had no friends after that," Morgan explains sadly. "I was alone."
A short time later, she was on a library computer during lunch when one of the girls demanded to see her friends' list on Facebook. When she refused, and went to leave, she says she was smacked on the back of the head and pushed.
Morgan pushed back. "Then she grabbed my hair and pulled me down and was punching me and kneeing me in the face."
The librarian, who didn't see the fight, asked them to leave.
Outside, with more girls looking on, the attack continued.
"She kicked me in the side," Morgan says. "She put her arm around my neck and choked me."
With one girl sitting on her, another broke off a tree branch and scraped it against the painful spot where she'd just been kicked. Morgan finally managed to flee crying to the principal's office.
But it was still not over.
Called to the school, Michael Washbrook arrived to find his daughter in tears. He was told the girls would all have to sit down with the principal for mediation and he should go for coffee.
He was just at the door when he heard Morgan screaming for help. The brazen pack of mean girls had attacked her again, with one of them punching her in the face, right in the school foyer and just steps from the principal.
Obviously, they weren't too worried about the consequences.
The furious dad threw kids aside as he fought his way to his hysterical daughter. The school called the police and it was Washbrook who was threatened with charges for touching the students.
As for the girls, two got three-day suspensions and are back in class. And Morgan? She hasn't been back to school since.
Her mom says the principal told her to pull her kids out because retaliation is inevitable and he can't ensure their safety.
Drennan insists he said no such thing. "She's welcome to come back here and we'd put a safety plan in place."
Not surprisingly, her parents are hardly reassured. "It happened right in front of the principal's office," says Morgan's mom. "I just don't have confidence that they can go into this school and be safe."
So until they can move to a new neighbourhood, Morgan and her brother remain holed up at home.
While the bullies have won the day yet again.