• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

New policy provides a more thorough approach in preventing and handling bullying

Zero tolerance

SOLON– Solon is taking a firmer stand when it comes to bullying in schools.
At the May 11 school board meeting, administration presented the first reading of the district’s updated anti-bullying/harassment policy, which was approved by the board.
Solon Community School District defines bullying as “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time that creates an imbalance of power. This type of behavior can include but is not limited to the following: targeted acts or threats, or intent to hurt someone with no regret or remorse for the intended victim.”
This definition is in line with state policy that aims to prevent all types of bullying, including cyber bullying: that which takes place online through social media platforms.
The new policy is based on training all three building principals received in February with consultant Amanda Easton, creator of Easton Bullying Investigative Systems. This training helped provide a complete understanding of steps to be taken in preventing and dealing with bullying incidents.
While Solon’s current anti-bullying/harassment policy clearly states that bullying isn’t tolerated in schools and that all incidents will be dealt with by administration, there was no standard for how such incidents were addressed. This led to inconsistencies between cases and across schools.
Easton’s system uses a step-by-step plan that handles everything from how to report an incident to what measures should be taken to protect the victim, how staff should get involved, and suggested consequences for offenders.
And because everything is thoroughly documented, it gives the district greater protection if an incident should go to court.
“It gave us a process to make sure we do things in the right order, with the right focus, and asking the right questions, to really get to what the issue is,” Solon High School Principal Nathan Wear said. “It’s a very defensible policy.”
He added that the new policy is more transparent, because parents, students, and staff can easily see what steps will be taken to address all cases of bullying, resulting in less confusion for all those involved.
“(The new system) will help us define what bullying is, what we’re doing to prevent it, and what our response will be if it happens,” Wear said. “Parents always ask whenever there is a concern ‘what are you going to do about it?’ Now it’s all laid out for them.”
The policy also provides better protection for students who report bullying and for those who witness it, which the district hopes will encourage students to come forward if they see or experience it.
Easton served as primary investigator for the Des Moines School District for over 11 years before she began offering her services to school districts across the state. She will travel to Solon on Aug. 21 to work with all teachers, coaches, bus drivers, and other staff.
Director Dean Martin felt the new policy would be a positive first step in addressing the problem.
“I know this is a very important topic for the district and having a good policy in place is a good start,” Martin said.
Though the new system won’t become a part of district policy until it is approved for the upcoming school year, all three buildings have been implementing Easton’s methods since the training.
Wear has found that, even though the system requires more action steps, handling cases has been easier because administration knows exactly how to proceed.
He hopes that with consistent use, the schools will see a reduction in the number of bullying cases that occur.
“We don’t tolerate bullying at all and this gives us a really thorough way to send that message,” Wear said. “We’re going to investigate every claim we have… and make sure anything that’s reported to us goes through this process.”
The second reading of the proposed policy will take place at the board’s June meeting.

Middle school, fine arts packages to be re-bid
The district will also re-bid two of the bid packages for the new middle school and fine arts addition.
The package for roofing and sheet metal was revised to offer subcontractors an alternative package that used a generic PVC specification, instead of a specific manufacturer. The package’s basis bid was also changed to use Ethyline-Propylene-Diene-Monomer (EPDM) roofing materials instead of PVC. This came at the recommendation of contractor Story Construction.
The district will also rebid the paints and coatings package, after the package received no bids. There was slight confusion as to where to send bids for the package, according to administration, but Story is in the process of contacting companies who submitted incorrectly to have them resubmit.
Those bids will be due by June 2, with a public hearing scheduled for June 8 to award contracts.

Summer school, fall fees
Wear also presented the board with summer school offerings for the upcoming summer break. Those courses will include Spanish, physical education, health, and credit recovery for at-risk students.
Wear said that health was a new course offering for the summer and the high school had already seen a large amount of interest, with 22 students signed up to take the class.
Finally, the board discussed student fees for the upcoming school year. Most fees stayed the same as previous years; however, Solon’s breakfast fee increased from $1.45 to $1.60.
Superintendent Sam Miller said while lunch fees have increased in the past year, breakfast fees have largely stayed the same and the increase was a result of federal guideline changes.