Articles in the Bullying category

Sandy Hook tragedy teaches lessons on school security

Thomas J. Gentzel, the Executive Director of the National School Boards Association (NSBA), reflected on the first anniversary of the Dec. 14, 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. with this statement:

“The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary one year ago shook the nation. Our hearts go out to the families and friends who lost loved ones and to all those in Newtown who were affected on that horrific day.

“One year later, the nation continues to memorialize the 26 adults and children who were killed at the school, support their survivors, grieve, and move forward. For school board members, the urgency of making schools around the country safer and more responsive to future threats is an ongoing imperative and legacy of the Newtown shootings.

“As part of their duties, school boards must ensure that school buildings keep children and school personnel safe without becoming fortresses. In cases of natural disasters and man-made situations, school buildings – equipped with high-occupancy gymnasiums and cafeterias – are often the first shelter, serving as community safe havens and command posts. School boards recognize that even the best emergency preparedness policy is perishable, and they are monitoring and improving their districts’ policies on a routine basis.

“School districts can ensure that parents and the community have a clear and actionable understanding of emergency response plans. One example is parental notification – to clear the path for first responders and their emergency vehicles, parents are often directed to a designated area away from the school where they can safely receive real-time updates.

“Since the Sandy Hook tragedy, there has been much debate on whether armed security guards should be used to protect the nation’s schools, or whether teachers or other school staff should be armed. In cases when a community deems school security is essential, NSBA believes that only sheriff’s deputies and police officers should be hired as school resource officers. Trained to deploy their weapons in the safest way possible and to take action that minimizes collateral damage, sheriff’s deputies and police officers have ‘qualified immunity’ that affords school districts the legal protection they need in case of any unintended consequences that could arise in carrying out their duties.

“As we approach this first anniversary, NSBA joins world and national leaders, state and local governments, community leaders, and people across the country in remembering those affected by the Sandy Hook tragedy. Times like these give us great pause because they remind us not only of the fragility of life but also of the bravery and resilience shown by Newtown’s teachers and school administrators, the students and parents, and the first responders on Dec. 14, 2012. Our nation’s 90,000 school board members will honor them as we continue our efforts to educate and protect our school children and school personnel who work in America’s public schools each day.”

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 11th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Environmental Issues, NSBA Opinions and Analysis, Policy Formation, School Buildings, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , , , , |

Schools reversing Zero Tolerance policies

It was called the “broken windows” theory, and it shows — quite tragically, in some cases — how taking a social policy that might make sense in one context and applying it to another can have disastrous consequences.

The theory, popular with police departments and big-city mayors in the 1980s and 1990s, was that if police ignored petty crime – the broken windows of a neighborhood – these incidents would grow to create a climate where more serious crimes would occur.

Was the policy successful? That depends on whom you talk to. But big problems resulted when it was applied to the public schools.

“Some of the same crime policies filtered into the school system,” said Dwanna Nicole, Policy Advocate for the Advancement’s Project’s Ending the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Track Program, who gave a webinar Thursday sponsored by her organization and NSBA’s National Black Caucus of School Board Members.

That policy, also spurred by the Columbine shootings and a mistaken fear that youth violence was increasing, has spawned the kind of zero tolerance policies that have resulted in huge spikes in the number of suspensions and expulsions for all students, but particularly for African-American and Hispanics students, students with disabilities, and gay students.

Now, however, in places like Denver, Buffalo, N.Y., and Broward County, Fla., those numbers are starting to turn around as more school districts embrace discipline polices that put the long-term needs of students first. The Denver Public Schools now have one of the most progressive discipline codes in the nation, Nicole said. This has been augmented by a recent state Smart School Discipline law and a brokered Memorandum of Understanding between law enforcement agencies and the school district.

While black students in Denver are still suspended at greater rates than whites, these numbers are going down. In 2010-2011 86 percent of black students did not have out-of-school suspensions. By 2012-13, 90 percent had no  suspensions.  Attendance rates for black and Hispanic students have also increased steadily since 2008.

Districts such as Denver are explicitly addressing racial disparities in suspensions, expulsions, and other forms of discipline and collecting better discipline records, Nicole said.

Lawrence Hardy|December 6th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Data Driven Decision Making, Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, High Schools, School Climate, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , |

NSBA’s National Black Caucus hosts Dec. 5 webinar on school-to-prison pipeline

The National Black Caucus of School Board Members (NBC) will present a webinar on the “school to prison pipeline,” a disturbing national trend where children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The webinar will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.NBCclip_image001

Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services. Instead, they are isolated, punished and pushed out, according to the NBC.  The unintended consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies have led to the criminalization of minor infractions of school rules.  Students of color are especially vulnerable to push-out trends and the discriminatory application of discipline.

This webinar will outline the history of zero tolerance policies and how they led to the creation of the school-to-prison pipeline. It will also examine the impact that the school-to-prison pipeline is having on students, school districts, cities, and states throughout the country. And finally, the work that school districts are doing to address this issue will be highlighted and discussed.

NBC is presenting the event with the Advancement Project, a multi-generational civil rights organization. NBC is one of three caucuses within the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that is devoted to promoting and advancing equitable educational access and opportunities for African-American children.

Participants may attend the event online through this weblink, or by calling (619) 550-0003. The access code and meeting ID is 692-228-865.

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 2nd, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Conferences and Events, Discipline, Diversity, Dropout Prevention, Multimedia and Webinars, Policy Formation, Urban Schools|Tags: |

NSBA, AASA back Employment Non-Discrimination Act in U.S. Senate

A bill that passed the U.S. Senate barring workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity has been strongly supported by NSBA and AASA: The School Superintendents Association.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the Senate today by a 64 to 32 vote.

In a Nov. 1 letter to each senator, NSBA and AASA noted that they “have long prioritized the elimination of discrimination in schools, for both students and employees.”

“By voting to support ENDA, you will affirm and strengthen the American ideal that individual employees are hired, evaluated and promoted on the basis of their ability to perform their job, and not an arbitrary act of prejudice or discrimination,” said the letter, which was signed by AASA Associate Executive Director Noelle Ellerson and NSBA Associate Executive Director Michael A. Resnick.

While the bill passed the Senate easily, it confronts a tougher road in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which includes many social conservatives who are opposed to the measure, the Washington Post said. But for the moment, those in the Senate majority could celebrate an historic vote.

“Let freedom ring,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, the bill’s chief sponsor, before the vote.

Lawrence Hardy|November 7th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Diversity, Federal Advocacy, Public Advocacy|

Bullying remains ‘moving target’ for schools, COSA attorneys say

Why are we still talking about bullying? It remains a hot topic among school districts and attorneys, and was the topic of a Friday Council of School Attorneys’ session at the 2013 School Law Seminar in San Diego.

Presenters Seamus Boyce of Church, Church, Hittle & Atrium, Jim D. Long, senior attorney with the U.S Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and Anne Littlefield, of Shipman & Goodwin outlined the issues that continue to challenge school districts about preventing bullying while not violating students First Amendment rights.

“It’s a moving target,” said Boyce. “We must try to avoid some of the negative outcomes for our clients.”

Littlefield outlined some of the current cases of bullying facing school districts and gave some advice for lawyers to take back to their districts:

“A few things to avoid saying on the record: ‘Boys will be boys,’ and ‘Teens will be teens.’ Don’t call it a prank. When you do that, you are communicating to students, parents, community and teachers that you will not take it seriously.”

About OCR enforcement, Long said, “There are rules about this stuff, and the rules are your friends. Follow the rules. That’s what I tell school districts.” Schools must have statements of non-harassment and make sure there are procedures that provide for prompt resolution, he said.

According to Boyce, 49 states have laws regarding peer bullying. These laws often have specific requirements for districts and school boards, including forming policies, procedures, and preventions plans.

Issues of cyberbullying, social network bullying, bullying off-campus and bullying counterclaims based on First Amendment rights are trending right now, said Boyce.

Kathleen Vail|April 12th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Council of School Attorneys, NSBA Annual Conference 2013, School Climate, School Law|

Ohio school boards hoping to hire more school safety officers, survey finds

A new survey by the Ohio School Boards Association (OSBA) found that roughly two out of five Ohio school districts currently have school safety officers, but many more districts are interested in acquiring them.

Forty-two percent of superintendents and treasurers reported using school safety officers to help ensure school security, according to the OSBA survey. It found police officers and sheriff’s deputies are most commonly used (90 percent), followed by security guards employed or contracted by the district (10 percent). Sixty-three percent of the districts with school safety officers have a single officer, 28 percent have two or three officers and less than 10 percent have four or more officers.

“In the wake of the tragic school shooting in Newtown, Conn., schools districts in Ohio and around the U.S. are taking extra steps to ensure students and staff are as safe as possible,” said OSBA Executive Director Richard Lewis. “It’s up to each district to decide the best way to ensure security, but school safety officers are one possible response to a complex problem.”

Fifty-six percent of Ohio school district leaders said their school safety officers are funded by the school district; a quarter said their school safety officers are funded through a shared service agreement. Among districts that do not currently use school safety officers, 58 percent of school leaders said they are interested in acquiring them.

OSBA Director of Legislative Services Damon Asbury noted that the cost of employing school security officers is difficult for the majority of Ohio’s cash-strapped school districts. He pointed out that a proposed state law, Senate Bill 42, would provide an avenue for districts to submit levy requests for funds to sponsor school safety measures, including resource officers. The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Gayle Manning and Sen. Randy Gardner.

Results are based on nearly 300 responses to an OSBA survey conducted electronically this month. For survey results, visit http://links.ohioschoolboards.org/33436/.

Erin Walsh|March 19th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Bullying, Crisis Management, Discipline, School Climate, School Security|Tags: , , |

Education Talk Radio previews NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference

Kanisha Williams-Jones, Director of Leadership & Governance Services at the National School Boards Association (NSBA), was a guest today on Education Talk Radio providing a preview of NSBA’s 2013 Annual Conference. Thousands of school board members, administrators, and other educators will be coming to San Diego to take part in the April 13-15 event.

Listen to the broadcast:

Listen to internet radio with EduTalk on Blog Talk Radio

The conference will feature more than 200 sessions on timely education topics, including federal legislation and funding, managing schools with tight budgets, the legal implications of recent court cases, new research and best practices in school governance, and the Common Core State Standards. A series of sessions will focus on school safety and security.

Expanded education technology programming will include site visits to the University of San Diego and Qualcomm’s Mobile Learning Center to explore its research laboratory on mobile learning; Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography to examine the technology in science education and STEM; Encinitas Union School District to view its One-to-One Digital Learning Program; and the San Diego Zoo to learn about the cutting-edge learning tools used to teach at-risk students. U.S. Navy SEALs will show leadership and team building skills during another workshop.

The meeting also includes one of the largest K-12 educational expositions, with some 300 companies showcasing their innovative products and services for school districts.

General Session speakers include Academy Award winning speaker Geena Davis, who will be speaking about her work off-screen as founder of the non-profit Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. Davis works with film and television creators to reduce gender stereotyping and increase the number of female characters in media targeted for children 11 and under. She will explain how media plays a key role in children’s development, and how her organization is making a difference.

Television star Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s most engaging and passionate science advocates, will headline Sunday’s General Session. From PBS to NASA to Presidential Commissions, organizations have depended on Tyson’s down-to-earth approach to astrophysics. He has been a frequent guest on “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, R”eal Time with Bill Maher”, and “Jeopardy!”. Tyson hopes to reach “all the people who never knew how much they’d love learning about space and science.”

Monday’s General Session features acclaimed researcher and author Diane Ravitch, who has become one of the most passionate voices for public schools. Her most recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, makes the case that public education today is in peril and offers a clear prescription for improving public schools.

Learn more about the common core standards, new research on differentiated learning styles, and teaching “unteachable” children at the Focus On lecture series. Learn about new technologies for your classrooms as part of the Technology + Learning programs.

It’s not too late to register, visit the Annual Conference website for  more information.

NSBA works with White House on school safety issues

President Barack Obama issued 23 executive actions today that he says will strengthen school safety and prevent gun violence. He also called on Congress to pass tougher gun-control measures, including banning some assault rifles and magazines and requiring  background checks for purchasing all guns, one month and two days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown, Conn.

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) was represented by Executive Director Thomas J. Gentzel at the White House event. Obama announced a campaign entitled “Now is the Time” that outlines his plans for preventing gun violence.

The executive actions pertaining to school safety include:

  • Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers;
  • Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship, and institutions of higher education;
  • Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations;
  • Launch a national conversation on mental health with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The orders and proposals were “based on an emerging consensus from all the groups we heard,” said Vice President Joe Biden. At the request of the president, Vice President Biden oversaw a task force designed to field recommendations from key stakeholder groups to curb gun violence in the United States. The White House has emphasized that local school leaders would be able to choose the safety measures for their schools as they see fit.

“We commend President Obama for his efforts to ensure that all schools are safe places,” Gentzel said. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress in a collaborative effort to address this important issue.”

NSBA called for the expansion of school safety zones and more school resource officers during a Jan. 9 White House meeting with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Attorney General Eric Holder, and White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, who fielded recommendations from about a dozen major education groups as part of the vice president’s task force.

NSBA’s Director of Federal Legislation Deborah Rigsby participated in that session and also recommended greater access to mental health services and resources for greater coordination between law enforcement agencies and school districts.

Other organizations represented at the event included the American Association of School Administrators, National PTA, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, School Social Work Association of America, Council of Chief State School Officers, Mothers in Charge, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Council for Exceptional Children, and Council of Great City Schools.

Some of the groups discussed ideas such as creating a federal interagency council on school safety, and training development and support for school principals on preparation and preparedness.

NSBA and some other groups did not take a specific position on gun control, but others expressed opposition to arming teachers with guns, Rigsby said.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 16th, 2013|Categories: Bullying, Crisis Management, Educational Finance, Educational Legislation, Federal Advocacy, Federal Programs, Governance, Legislative advocacy, Policy Formation, School Climate, School Security, Uncategorized|Tags: , , , , , , |

NSBA General Counsel discusses school safety policies for Education Week

The  National School Boards Association’s General Counsel praised the response of school officials in the Newtown, Conn., school shootings last month and gives advice for other school districts in a commentary for Education Week.

Francisco M. Negrón Jr. noted that the Newtown school district had a sound policy in place, and more lives could have been lost had it not been for the quick thinking of the school principal and other staff, some of whom were killed by the gunman.

“It is because of plans and training like those in Newtown that schools across the United States will continue to be the safe havens they are for the vast majority of students, in spite of the depraved acts of those determined to harm our children.  Parents and families can help by being part of the dialogue that encourages engagement among local school district leaders, local law enforcement and the community to determine the best emergency plans for their schools. Once those partnerships are in place, schools can help by regularly training school officials on the procedures.  Parents should also understand the emergency plans and should talk to their children in an age appropriate manner about following the directives of teachers and other school officials.”

The commentary was published in the Transforming Learning blog, a project of the Learning First Alliance, a coalition of 16 major education organizations.

Joetta Sack-Min|January 16th, 2013|Categories: Board governance, Bullying, Crisis Management, School Security|

Kentucky district reassesses role of resource officers after Conn. shootings

Boone County Schools in Kentucky, home of National School Boards Association President C. Ed Massey, was featured in a Bloomberg story last week on the timely issue of arming school officials.

The National Rifle Association spurred a controversy on December 21 when it called for armed security guards in every U.S. public school in light of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut.

Boone County Schools has hired nine sheriff’s deputies, armed with Glock .40-caliber pistols and tasers, to patrol its 23 schools, according to Bloomberg. The school board determined the policy after a 17-year-old high school junior killed his parents and two sisters, then held a class hostage at his high school.

While the focus has been on preventing violence at the middle and high schools, Superintendent Randy Poe told Bloomberg that the district is considering shifting some of its officers’ time to elementary schools. “It’s a new day,” Poe said. “You have to think differently here.”

Boone County was also featured in a Dec. 23 story by the New York Post on the school safety.

 

 

Joetta Sack-Min|December 27th, 2012|Categories: Board governance, Budgeting, Bullying, Crisis Management, Governance, High Schools, School Security|Tags: , , |
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