No bullying cases were reported in Delaware City Schools in 2020, and district officials are taking proactive steps to make sure it stays that way.
During the Feb. 15 DCS Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Heidi Kegley reported there were zero bullying cases reported last year. She noted the lack of cases could be in part because the student body was split up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Assistant Superintendent Craig Heath said Friday the board’s policy defines bullying as “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another student more than once, and the behavior both causes mental or physical harm to the other student and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student.”
He added, “Building administrators take bullying cases very seriously and investigate the situations to get to the root cause of the problem while implementing solutions to eliminate the behaviors from the educational environment.”
Heath said the district is encouraged by the lack of bullying cases.
“While much of this may be attributed to the reduced capacities we have had in the buildings this year, we are also noticing students demonstrating acts of kindness and compassion as we all navigate the pandemic together,” he said. “The sense of community that our principals, teachers, and support staff have developed in such unique circumstances this year has been nothing short of extraordinary. The learning environments established in our buildings is something we can take great pride in as a community, and we look forward to continuing to develop empathy, kindness, and compassion in our students moving forward.”
Aaron Cook, the district’s director of secondary curriculum and assessment, said the district has implemented “tactful steps” to reduce bullying in the schools.
“First, the administrative staff has worked to improve the investigation and reporting process for bullying and harassment,” Cook said. “Second, each building has a Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS) Team that has developed standard operating procedures to help students be successful. Additionally, PBIS teams focus on building an inclusive climate and culture, including positive relationships.”
Cook added the district has also brought in guest speakers and presenters to talk to students, staff, and occassionally parents to help decrease bullying and to focus on the proper ways to respond to incidences of bullying.
“Lastly, the Curriculum Department has trained over 100 staff members in restorative practices, which focuses proactively on fostering relationships as well as repairing relationships, which is critical to creating a positive climate,” Cook said.
Director of Elementary Curriculum and Assessment Joseph Uher said the district is planning to continue to develop the anti-bullying policies and practices for years to come.
“The district and buildings will continue to cultivate our PBIS frameworks, as well as a comprehensive plan to train all staff in restorative practices over the next few years,” Uher said.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.