- Last Updated on 02 August 2012
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Tackling a subject that has generated complaints in recent months from Staunton River High School students and parents, the Bedford County School Board approved a new bullying prevention and intervention policy.
The SRHS group and 16-year-old student Laura Ellis spoke to the board several times in hopes of addressing the issue they say is rampant at the Moneta school. A Facebook page called “Staunton River Bullying Must Stop” formed and Ellis circulated a petition demanding a stronger stance from school officials.
Shortly before the board’s vote to pass the new policy Thursday, Ellis told the board she would continue to hound officials at meetings until something was done. She seemed supportive of the new policy and thanked the board.
“This is not the last time you guys will see me,” Ellis said, suggesting she may take her campaign to the state level.
The policy was developed with input from a team of school administrators, school psychologists, social service workers, nurses and central office staff. It defines bullying as “repeated negative behaviors with the intent to frighten or cause harm.”
School staff will be given instruction annually on administrative procedures to address bullying and harassment, the policy states.
Education activities are outlined such as school wide assemblies on bullying prevention, classroom meetings to discuss topics of bullying and harassment, videos or online learning modules and instruction on how to intervene or report instances to authorities.
The policy encourages a “culture of openness” as the most effective way to counter bullying, physical and verbal altercations, spreading rumors with intent to harm, sexual harassment and “cyber” bullying in online forums. Principals will monitor effectiveness and each July will provide annual summaries to Superintendent Doug Schuch or his designee, it states.
“It’s about enhancing what we are doing (with bullying),” said Sara Staton, the division’s director of special services. “The schools are doing many, many things already.”
In other news:
- The board appointed two new principals at Staunton River Middle School and Moneta Elementary School. Melanie Simmons was named new principal at the elementary school; she is the division’s grant coordinator and formerly taught social studies at SRHS. Karen Woodford will assume the post at SRMS; she recently served as an instructional supervisor in central office and is a former Moneta Elementary principal.
- Assistant Superintendent Cherie Whitehurst addressed the board on a proposed new policy that establishes, supervises and finances club sports teams. A club sport is an extracurricular program to promote a particular sport and would use the division’s facilities and transportation. However, funding would be responsibility of participants in reimbursing the school board to make sure the sports are “revenue neutral.” The board is expected to vote on the policy in August.
- The board approved a 2013-14 school year calendar that begins and ends a bit earlier. The first day of class would be Aug. 15 and graduation, currently in early June, would be May 24.
- Fees for non-residents students from outside the county for the current school year was set at $3,640, a $280 increase from last year.
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