By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(June 29, 2018) The Worcester County Public Schools Board of Education amended and revised policies regarding bullying during its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 19.
Recent concerns regarding the safety and security of Worcester County’s school children led to revisions in the board’s code of conduct regarding bullying, harassment, or intimidation of students.
The code now includes harassment of students motivated by gender identity and physical or mental disabilities.
Cyberbullying has been acknowledged as a form of intimidation or harassment. The online harassment will be duly noted as an action held under “electronic communication.”
A school-wide prevention/intervention program will be implemented for the 2018-19 school year. Biennial data collection on characteristics of bullying will be used to guide local decision-making related to surveillance, prevention, intervention and professional development.
“As superintendent, I am always in favor of policy changes that empower school personnel to properly address student safety and school climate,” Superintendent Lou Taylor said.
New procedures on how to prevent, intervene and punish accordingly have been included in the updated code of conduct.
“There’s a lot of work going into revising the policy,” said Supervisor of Student Services Eloise Henry-Gordy. “We updated prevention-intervention, meditation and consequences, as well as community services. We also updated the new contact information for the MSDE Student Services branch of their department.”
Examples of new prevention procedures includes annual professional development for administrators and staff to increase awareness of the causes and consequences of bullying and increase the use of evidence-based strategies to prevent bullying; education/intervention for the students exhibiting bullying behaviors; and counseling the victim with protection from retaliation.
Disciplinary remedial actions to discourage bullying include meetings with school counselors or school psychologists, education about the effects of bullying, harassment or intimidation and community service.