JPS committee watches legislature on antibullying policyMore documents joined the fray in the crafting of a nearly-finalized antibullying policy for Jamestown Public Schools early Wednesday morning. The committee appointed by the Jamestown Public School Board looked at a statewide recommendation from the North Dakota School Board Association as well as an early draft of House Bill 1147. Both are related to school district bullying policies.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
More documents joined the fray in the crafting of a nearly-finalized antibullying policy for Jamestown Public Schools early Wednesday morning.
The committee appointed by the Jamestown Public School Board looked at a statewide recommendation from the North Dakota School Board Association as well as an early draft of House Bill 1147. Both are related to school district bullying policies.
“If the state is going to define what bullying is, we don’t want to have a definition that’s different,” said Superintendent Bob Toso.
Even though the proposed house bill is a rough draft, Toso said it is important for Jamestown’s policy to encompass all areas covered in the bill and the NDSBA’s recommendation.
“What we already have does (encompass all areas) and like I said, we can go beyond that,” he said.
The proposed bill is roughly a page long and would require each district to “develop of policy to prohibit the bullying of one student by another.”
The recommendation from the NDSBA is roughly a page and a half long, while Jamestown’s draft policy is nine pages long.
“One of the things we face with this original one we have is that it’s probably too inclusive,” said School Board President Greg Allen.
At least one committee member agreed with Allen.
“So far though it looks like we’re on track and there’s nothing we’re leaving out,” said Shelly Jystad, School?Board member on the committee.
Still, the draft of the bill — once changed by the Legislature — would require a second look at Jamestown’s policy. It will likely be reviewed by the School Board in early February.
“Once the house bill becomes law we’re going to have to review ours anyway,” Allen said, “but I’d be surprised if we’re missing anything.”
Nellie Degen, community member, did express some concern over disciplinary actions and wanted to see direct parent involvement before student expulsion, like she said she saw in California.
“Trust me. Students will behave totally different if their parents are present,” Degen said.
She suggested after a certain number of instances in which parents are notified of the behavior that the parent be invited to spend the day with their child at school.
“If you want to defuse something or keep that child in school, trust me — it only takes one time,” she said.
The committee agreed to put the suggestion in the draft of the policy.
Other work done on the draft included fixing typos and the addition and removal of certain words and phrases to make the draft policy as coherent as possible.
For example, a loose definition of bullying was clarified earlier in the document, and later references were changed. Separate sections were created for different disciplinary sanctions the district could take as well as training for students and staff for the policy.
Lisa Wibstad, community member also attended the meeting and had concerns about proper training she expressed afterwards.
“My concern is you have a giant, big bullying policy and you have to give people direction on how to handle all of these rules,” Wibstad said.
Toso said he would meet with school administrators before the policy is reviewed at the School Board meeting on Feb. 7. He said he plans to go over ways to conduct training for the implementation of the policy so those involved are up to speed.
Items at the end of the document including additional referral, constitutional safeguard, preclusion and severability were struck. Clarifications were also made for cyberbullying, where parents and students could find the entire policy and who would handle each case.
Toso said he will have Becky Baumbach, district administrative assistant, revise the policy and send it out to board members. They will likely go through it during the first meeting of the School Board in February.
“I’d like for us to get something to the board so we can get something in our policy book,” Allen said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com