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School district adopts bullying standards
The South Kitsap School District adopted two new policies over the summer regarding threats of violence and bullying in accordance with state laws.
SKSD approved Policy No. 3413, prohibiting harassment, intimidation and bullying, which the state Senate had required each school district to have in place by Aug. 1.
The policy states that harassment, intimidation or bullying (is) any intentional written, verbal or physical act that physically harms a student or damages their property, creates a hostile environment or substantially interferes with a students education or the schools operations.
The district also approved Policy No. 3414, which states that staff, students, volunteers and others involved in school activities have the responsibility to report any threats of violence or harm to designated school officials.
This policy was mandated by Senate Bill 6351, which required school districts to adopt policies for notifying students or school employees who may be the targets of potential threats of violence or harm by Sept. 1.
Frank Sullivan, the districts director of school administration and student services, said the new policies are due to a general increased awareness of threats and bullying following school tragedies such as the multiple murders at Columbine High School in 1999.
The whole point is to offer a safe learning environment in our changing rapidly changing world, Sullivan said. Were letting people know were sitting up and taking notice.
Sullivan said the two policies will not translate into huge changes for how the district handles incidents, however. As an assistant principal at South Kitsap High the states largest three-year high school for 12 years until 2002, Sullivan said the high school has had similar procedures in place for many years.
Officer Bob MacFann, who has served as school resource officer for the high school and Cedar Heights Junior High for four years, agreed, saying as far as hes concerned the high school has always taken threats seriously.
Sullivan said the major changes are that now it is mandatory for any staff person custodian, teacher or lunchroom supervisor to report threats ranging from name-calling to assaults, and the parents of a victim or potential victim must be notified as well.
Before, if you were bullied, your parents wouldnt have gotten a call wed just call the bullys parents, he said. I believe notifying parents is just part of education, and part of being an administrator. Thats all I would expect as a parent.
Sullivan said the increased reporting and notification will hopefully lead to more and sooner intervention opportunities, and ultimately safer schools.
Will we catch everything? No, he said, but I think well catch a lot more.