With the recent spate of bullying related headlines throughout the country, many school districts are looking at their policies and procedures very closely. Superior School District is no different. Bullying was one of the main topics of discussion at last week’s special meeting held by the governing board.
Jason Barragan, a concerned parent, addressed the Superior School Board about the bullying taken place in the elementary school.
“Most students,” Barragan said, “have been teased by a sibling or friend at some point, it is not harmful when done in a friendly or mutual way. But when teasing becomes harmful and constant, it crosses the line into bullying and it needs to stop.”
Barragan went on to discuss some facts about bullying in the school systems. His son, he said, has been the victim of bullying at Superior’s John F. Kennedy Elementary School. “I have personally spoke to administrators in reference to the bullying of my son.” He said he was told the situation would be handled. Barragan, however, was unsatisfied with the outcome.
“It’s time for harsh punishment for these kids,” he said. “These slap-on-the-wrist punishments is done. If I have to go higher I will, I need immediate action.”
A recommendation was made by the Superior School Board to follow up on the actions being taken. Training and counseling were also suggested. Parental involvement as well as an anti-bullying program for students and parents were discussed. Peer mediation groups and peer mediators was yet another suggestion.
Currently, the school holds assemblies, training, videos on bullying for the teachers and students. The teachers have policies on bullying and the policies are posted in the school halls.
“We try to educate the children and the adults,” said Yolanda Ewing, Superior School Board president.
Patrick O’Donnell, the superintendent, suggested more parental involvement. “We need to discuss with parents what bullying is and what it is not,” he said. “We can use a parent involvement night to discuss this with them.”
The Superior School Board was also asked about the serious allegations that an elementary student had sexually victimized six other students in the school.
“The nature of our concern is notification of parents when a student who are victims of assault or sexual misconduct and procedures regarding sexual misconduct,” explained one parent. “As a parent I feel I should have been informed, I don’t like to come home and have my daughter tell me what has happened to her as inappropriate as it is.”
O’Donnell told the board and the parents that he was waiting for a call from the school’s attorney for advice on how to handle the situation. After learning of the incident, “I called the (police) dispatch and asked for the officer on duty and called him directly and they began the investigation,” O’Donnell said.
The board discussed training for teachers and administrators and how not to let it happen again.
“It is unfortunate what has happened but we can’t change the past,” Ewing said. “We can do something about the future. The state law overrides any policies or procedures and everyone needs to know that.”
“It just turns your stomach that this is happening in this grade,” said board member Mila Besich-Lira. “It calls more to action that we do have a significant issue going on. I don’t think it is any one staff member that is responsible for doing this.” She added that counseling needs to be available not just to these victims but to everyone. “The school board wants to provide a safe and stable environment for all the students that attend,” Besich-Lira said.
The board agreed that an additional meeting was needed to further address the issues. A special meeting will be held April 23 at 7 p.m. The next regularly scheduled meeting is May 7 at 7 p.m. The public is encouraged and welcome to attend each meeting.