School Districts Crafting Policies on Bullying

Leading the way in ensuring that local school districts stay abreast on new laws and available opportunities, Thursday

The East Mississippi Center for Educational Development Thursday sponsored a round-table discussion on bullying for the 23 school districts it serves.

"There is confusion because bullying has been around a long time, but in today's society, where we have Internet, Facebook and text messaging, it's a problem," said Don Brantley of the EMCED.

During the discussion, longtime school law attorney, Jim Keith, who represents the Mississippi School Board Association, answered many of the questions local districts have about addressing the problem.

"This was specifically for filling in the gaps for my principals, directors, and giving them an opportunity to ask any questions," said Philadelphia superintendent, Joseph White.

"We're seeing more and more of it every day," said Winston County superintendent, William C. Wade. "Now, how big of an issue is it? That's what we're trying to decide right now. But it's a subject we can't take lightly and this is why we're trying to get all of our people trained as fast as possible.'"

"It has been a concern, because what is the definition of bullying? Where's the line? What is harassing behavior?" asked Brantley.

In today's technological society, just because a student is bullied outside the school, doesn't mean punishment can't be administered at school. In fact, if such actions outside school affect what happens in school, educators may intervene.

"For example, kids who are being teased relentlessly on Facebook and they don't want to come to class anymore, or they come to school and they don't want to participate or they're afraid to interact with their friends, that is having a negative impact at school and we will intervene," Keith said.

Under Senate Bill 2015, the deadline for school districts in Mississippi to develop a policy addressing bullying is Dec. 31, 2010.

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