School: Anti-bully policy making a difference

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MIDDLE TOWNSHIP – Incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying are down at Middle Township School District.

One school district official attributes that to awareness.

David Salvo, the district’s anti-bullying coordinator, said students know what good behavior is, and staff members are aware of a policy put into place in summer 2011 and they have been trained.

The number of harassment, intimidation and bullying incidents and referrals has also decreased, thanks to programs and assemblies, Salvo said. He is also the assistant superintendent of support services.

A report released by the school district showed no incidents at Middle Township High School in the fall semester this school year. The district reported three incidents at the high school last year.

From September through December, the district had 11 reported incidents compared to 10 the first half of the 2011-12 school year and 17 during the second part, according to information provided by the school district. The report shows 10 complaints at the Middle Township Middle School, nine of which are listed as confirmed. There were eight incidents at Elementary No. 2, with two shown as confirmed, and one reported at Elementary No. 1, which was not confirmed. 

During the first half of the school year, the district had 21 victims, 43 students involved and five students receiving out-of-school suspension.

From January through June 2012, the school had 75 students involved in incidents, 39 victims and 11 out-of-school suspensions. The first half of the 2011-12 school year included 74 students, 31 victims and six out-of-school suspensions, according to information from the school district.

The Board of Education adopted a policy on harassment, intimidation and bullying in 2011, but long before the policy, the school district had a strong focus on those areas, said Salvo.

According to the district's policy, harassment, intimidation, and bullying can be written, verbal or physical acts that happen on school property, at school-sponsored events, on the school bus or off school grounds.

Under the policy, students are encouraged to help other students who walk away from incidents; try to stop the incidents; assist fellow students facing harassment, intimidation or bullying; and report incidents to school staff.

Among consequences for students involved in harassment, intimidation and bullying include out-of-school suspension and restriction from school-sponsored programs.

The school district superintendent presents the harassment, intimidation and bullying findings to the Board of Education for approval. The parent also receives a report.

A parent can request a hearing in front of the school board to contest the incident, though none has, Superintendent Michael Kopakowski said. That meeting would be private and would include anti-bullying specialist and others.

The parent may also file a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights within 180 days of the incident, according to the school district's policy.

Under the policy, the district has an anti-bullying coordinator and the schools have anti-bullying specialists.

Kopakowski said the school district has tried to cut down on the harassment, intimidation and bullying and other incidents like substance abuse and weapons at the school district.

See the policy at www.middletwp.k12.nj.us.


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