Anti-bullying measures laid out in district reportA hefty binder comprised of a district-wide report on bullying prevention programs made up the bulk of discussion at Tuesday’s Jamestown Public School Board meeting.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
A hefty binder comprised of a district-wide report on bullying prevention programs made up the bulk of discussion at Tuesday’s Jamestown Public School Board meeting.
The report went into detail and broke down what public schools in Jamestown do to prevent bullying.
At the elementary level, Lincoln Elementary School had the most comprehensive presentation of programs the school uses.
Lincoln is also involved in the most programs, one of which is the Response to Intervention Positive Behavior program (RIPB).
“Oftentimes when we talk about bullying we talk about two people involved: the victim and the perpetrator,” said Bob Toso, JPS superintendent. “But we don’t talk often enough about the bystander.”
A bystander can be anyone who chooses to get involved when he or she witnesses bullying.
Lincoln and other elementary schools in Jamestown have two-year curriculums to educate about bullying as well as conflict resolution techniques.
Not every school uses RIPB, but all have a similar program in place that teaches a similar curriculum, Toso said. Some of those other programs are Choice Therapy and Reality Therapy.
“They try to indicate what behavior occurs, where they occur and when they occur, and if you do that you can start to see patterns and develop a more proactive manner,” he said.
One tool all schools have in place is participation in the SafeSchools online training program for staff members.
SafeSchools started last year and is a requirement for all certified staff. It covers a variety of topics related to bullying.
At Jamestown Middle School other items were included in the report, such as What’s Poppin’ at JMS, an open house that was completed last week.
“It does give an opportunity for people to come in and visit and, again, create the relationships with the school that are so important,” Toso said.
The report also included an outline of what back to school speaker Rick Heidt had to say about cyberbullying, a problem which is increasing.
At the high school level, a handout titled “Bullies and Bystanders” is distributed in the students’ homerooms.
After Toso outlined extensive report Roger Haut, School Board member, called for a unified approach to bullying prevention.
“We don’t have seven districts — we have one district,” Haut said. “I think we as a board need to look at a unified program for our entire district.”
Haut motioned at the last meeting the district adopt the Olweus program, a Norwegian bullying prevention program. Eventually the board agreed to look at a more comprehensive cost projection before starting program surveys in the fall.
Toso said curriculum should never be static and that counselors and administrators continually work on bullying prevention curriculum.
“I don’t mean to put words in their mouth but I know when I talk to administrators and counselors they feel very positive to what we’re doing with our anti-bullying campaign in the district,” Toso said. “Before you embark on any program you have to be convinced there’s a need for it — that you’re going to replace what you’re doing now with something better.”
Haut then questioned what the role of an elected official is, and should that include implementing district-wide policy change.
“The board’s job is to deal with big picture policy, you did that with the bullying policy,” Toso said. “The teachers’ job, administrations’ job is to implement programs.
“There’s a line where the board should not cross as to what’s going on specifically in classrooms and schools.” Toso said. “Your job is wider than that.”
In related news, Nellie Degen with the Jamestown Parent Awareness and Prevention Center announced the group has teamed with Bison 6 Cinema to bring the documentary “Bully” to the theater.
The show will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 15 and tickets are $6. Degen said the documentary could have a limited run at the theater.
The 2012 documentary follows the lives of five students being bullied. One student ultimately takes his own life.
Board members Diane Hanson and Shelly Jystad said the film is rated R and has some strong language, so parents should take a look before their children attend.
“This isn’t scripted, this is kids actually talking with their vernacular, and some of it may be questionable language,” Jystad said, “and while it’s important for you to see it I think it’s important to know about the discussion.”
Degen said she has worked for six months with Cory and Lyman Keim at Bison 6 Cinema for six months to bring the movie to town.
In other news, the board heard reports from Kayla Eslinger, who as a parent chaperoned the annual night before school campout.
She reported a few problems such as a student caught with a beer who was warned, and toilet papering and obscene words being drawn, but said it was taken care of the next morning.
Her daughter, Kristin Eslinger, a senior who attended the event, said the positives strongly outweighed the negatives.
“Everyone really wanted one (a campout) because we’ve also been a school that’s really cliquey and after the senior campout the seniors really get along,” she said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at email@example.com