Monday, October 3, 2011

NCMS Anti-Bullying Task Force 2011

In January of this school year, North Cumberland Middle School embarked on their first anti-bullying task force meeting. The task force consisted of school personnel, district personnel, parents and students. This group of approximately 25 was given the task of reviewing the current district policy to see if it was still strong enough to meet the changing needs of our student and family population. Given the unfortunate tragedies recently portrayed in the media concerning bullying and harassment, after careful review and consideration, it was decided an upgrade was necessary. We started by reviewing the results of the South Hadley, MA task force report and realized how far behind we were. We decided to conduct a side by side comparison and fill in the gaps that existed in our policy with some of the recommendations of the South Hadley report.

At about the time that we were completing our own recommendations to forward to our superintendent with the hopes that they would be forwarded to the school committee, the State of Rhode Island passed a new anti-bullying law in an amendment to the “Safe Schools Act”. It charged the Rhode Department of Education with developing a new model anti-bullying policy to be adopted by all school districts. In an effort to get out in front of other school districts, we decided to compare our recommendations to the requirements of the new model policy as outlined by the state legislature. Our recommendations either meet or exceed the expected outcome from the RIDOE.

Within the first month of school, we have already presented to the School Committee Rule and Regulations sub-committee where they asked for two slight teaks to the recommended policy. We will then present the tweaks one more time this month and expect to go to the full committee before Thanksgiving break. We are planning a special school committee night where the only item on the agenda is a community wide adoption of an aggressive and far reaching anti-bullying policy that communicates how much we care about our children and their well being. Tune into my twitter account for more updates this month @JayRMasterson.

Note: The recommendations are as follows:

• Strong policy statement about how committed we are against anti-bullying

• Expanded and through definition of bullying

• Definition of where “at school” means

• Definition of electronic media. This includes the scenario where bullying takes place in cyber space outside of school hours, but as soon as it effects one person in school it becomes a school issue

• Mandatory social skills training as a 1st level intervention for a student who is found to be bullying

• Electronic form for reporting bullying on the district website tied to a school officials email account

• Clear procedures that will outline the full investigation of a bullying incident

• A strong partnership between the school department and community law enforcement

• Anti-bullying program with a school official and law enforcement official that will train each school with one consistent message

• Requirement for each school to report to the superintendent semi-annually bullying incidents with the superintendent then reporting to the school committee semi-annually

The South Hadley Task Force and learning community are always in our thoughts. It was a complete tragedy that took place in their community. Let us hope that the rest of the world learns from them just as we have so as to prevent this from happening again.

No comments:

Post a Comment