|Posted by keshiaclukey on May 22, 2013 at 11:00 AM|
'Something more' can be done Discussion of bullying continues at Rome school board meeting
BY KESHIA CLUKEY
See original story at uticaod.com.
ROME - It's been a month since Michele Grifasi addressed the Rome school board about bullying, and she has seen some change.
"I'm very, very pleased so far where we're going with this," said the Rome parent at Wednesday's Board of Education meeting. "Please don't drop the ball."
Grifasi spoke at the April board meeting about the bullying of her 11th-grade daughter Kaleigh, who had been bullied with no recourse to the point of desperation - leading to her overdosing on medication.
Luckily, she called for help and is now doing much better and helping others by telling her story, Grifasi said.
Grifasi now asks the community to step up.
"It shouldn't have gotten to this point. Our parents need to be part of this. ... You need to get your family, your friends, parents and teachers involved in this as well. It isn't just one-fold," she said. "What are we doing as parents when we don't hold our children accountable for their actions?"
Wednesday night, staff and parents once again confronted the school board about bullying issues.
Rome officials have acknowledged criticism for their lack of response to bullying, and is in the process of modifying its own code of conduct.
Steps include trying to respond to incidents of bullying in a timelier, more consistent and effective manner, officials said. The district is working on a streamlined web-based reporting system that would send all incident reports directly to district Superintendent Jeffrey Simons. It is expected to be in place by June.
The district also will have a new code of conduct in place by fall with a more prescriptive set of disciplinary consequences for behaviors such as bullying and harassment, Simons said.
Parent Amanda Beyette has four children in the district and believes bullying still is a "huge issue."
Beyette said she has one child, a bully, whom she worked with to stop his behavior, and another who continues to be bullied.
"It's to the point where I'm telling my (children) to defend themselves when for years I've told them to turn the other cheek," she said. "Parents need to be more accountable, teachers need to pay more attention ... there has to be something more that can be done to protect everybody from the top down."
All districts began implementing the state's Dignity for All Students Act in July, which includes bullying prevention programs, requiring age-appropriate disciplinary measures, increased training for staff, reporting of incidents to the state and having a Dignity Act Coordinator in each school building.
In other business, residents spoke at a public hearing in favor of naming of Gansevoort Elementary School gym in honor of Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Geary of Rome, who was killed March 20, 2009, in action in Afghanistan. The board said it would vote on the naming on a later date.