Late bullying policies: Two local schools have yet to turn in their policies to the stateTwo small Christian schools in Jamestown have missed the deadline for turning in their bullying policies to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Two small Christian schools in Jamestown have missed the deadline for turning in their bullying policies to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.
Staff from Hillcrest Adventist Elementary and Victory Christian School emphasized that their schools have a strong emphasis on character education with Christian principles, and that any instances of bullying are taken seriously.
“We do have (a bullying policy),” said Carol Toay, principal and head teacher at Hillcrest. “… we just need to send it in.”
Schools in North Dakota were required by state law to turn in bullying policies to the Department of Public Instruction by July 1.
Of the 229 policies that were due, 89.5 percent, or 205 policies, were turned in on time.
As of Thursday, 19 schools had yet to send DPI their policies on bullying, said Valerie Fischer, director of safe and healthy schools and the director of adult education at DPI. Most of those that have not turned it in are small private schools.
“The fact that we only have 19 districts remaining isn’t bad,” Fischer said. “Overall, I’m very pleased, and I have high expectations for the school year.”
Hillcrest’s bullying policy was written about five years ago and is printed in the school’s student handbook. It addresses any threatening behavior, name-calling and defiance of authority, and there is a disciplinary step system, with the final step being expulsion. So far, Toay said, no one has been expelled from Hillcrest for bullying.
Due to the small class sizes at Hillcrest — last year the school had just 22 students in grades one through eight — the school doesn’t have a lot of issues with bullying, Toay added.
“The kids look out for each other,” she said. “They’re aware of it when it’s happening. They report it or say something right away to the child.”
Victory Christian School, which had 30 students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes during the last school year, does not have a bullying policy.
“We’re a Christian school, so everything we teach is about respect. … bullying is a nonissue at this school,” said LaDeen Knutson, director and pre-K teacher at Victory.
Suzanne Bowman, president of the school board at Victory, said the school had not been approached by DPI about a bullying policy.
“I don’t know how we have been missed in the system,” Bowman said. “Without having been contacted by (DPI) it hasn’t even been on our radar screen. We haven’t addressed it with our board, we haven’t talked about it.”
According to Fischer, all public and private schools received multiple emails last year about the issue, sent to superintendents and principals.
“I think the collection of the policy certainly guarantees some liability protection for the district … but it also shows their commitment to addressing bullying, because the numbers are on the rise,” Fischer said.
Bowman emphasized that Victory Christian has always complied with DPI directives in the past, and said she had not been given any indication of how to proceed with the bullying policy issue.
“There’s a lot of questions, to my mind, why we haven’t been flagged, why we haven’t been approached, why we haven’t seen any information,” Bowman said. “… I think at this point what we need to do is just have some discussions with DPI because … we don’t even know what the stipulations are yet in terms of … are we even considered a school that has to do this by the Legislature’s standards?”
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at