"The policy concerning bullying has always existed but was never given the proper focus it needed," Superintendent William Schad said at the July meeting of the Clay Community School Board of Trustees. "There has never been anything done to implement the policy, until now."
Earlier this year, when the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation requiring school corporations across the state to define what bullying is, adopt new and stronger rules prohibiting bullying and implement educational programs to enable teachers, students and parents to better identify and deal with bullying situations, Indiana became the 18th state in the nation to have an anti-bullying law.
Educators, parents and members of the Clay Community School Board of Trustees agree that students must feel and be safe while participating in all aspects of school in order to learn and become competent adults and citizens.
The proposed changes in the bullying policy include:
- A stricter definition of bullying as an act by a single student, or a group of students, against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm another student through overt, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications transmitted and/or physical acts committed, or any other similar behavior is prohibited.
- Implementation of the rules to include students involved in any activity on school grounds, while traveling to or from a school sanctioned event or using property or equipment provided by the school.
- Investigation into all reports of bullying and the encouragement of parents and students to report repeated acts of bullying to the school principal or designee.
- Using counseling, corrective discipline and/or referral to law enforcement as a means to change the behavior of the perpetrator(s). This includes the use of appropriate intervention(s), restoration of a positive climate and support for victims and others impacted by the violation.
- Developing educational outreach programs and training for all school personnel, parents and students concerning the identification, prevention and intervention in bullying.
- Encouraging all schools in the corporation to engage students, staff and parents in meaningful discussions about the negative aspects of bullying. The parental involvement may be through parent organizations already in place in each school.
The Trustees saw the need to clarify and strengthen the corporation's policy on bullying at the first reading of the proposed changes during the July meeting and have scheduled the second reading on the matter on this Thursday's agenda for their meeting at the Media Center of North Clay Middle School at 7:30 p.m.
Part 2: Is bullying part of growing up?