KEESEVILLE - Nearly 50 professionals from the fields of Law Enforcement, Mental Health, School Administration, and the Juvenile Prosecutor for Essex County met at Keeseville Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 10. They were part of the Anti Bullying Task Force a division of the Safe Schools, Healthy Students project administered through CVES.
New York State Assemblywoman Janet Duprey was there to help explain the New York State Dignity for All Students Act that will go into effect July 1, 2012.
The New York Act, which builds on the criteria set forth by the federal definition of bullying, goes a step further. Not only does it define bullying as discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin or ones disability, it also encompasses harassment based on sexual orientation, ethnic group, religion, weight or gender.
Duprey mentioned that this was the only time she was involved in passing legislation that led to death threats.
Sue Spissinger vrom the SUNY Research Foundation provided a cover page outlining the school level surveys available to all schools upon request. The surveys are available on the elementary and middle/high school levels and target three separate audiences: school staff, parents, and students. The surveys are available for use immediately.
Survey data will be compiled at no cost to schools by the SUNY Research Foundation as part of the Safe Schools/Healthy Students project.
Although schools will receive their data individually, no individual school data will be shared with Task Force members or the public. Data will only be shared in aggregate form with the Task Force and other sources. This data will support school officials in moving forward with anti bullying programs and interventions.
For the March meeting, the task force was broken into three groups to concentrate on the main components of an anti bullying policy: Definition, Disciplinary Consequences Policies and Incident Reporting Procedures using a policy already in use by the Broward Co, Fla., School District. Their anti bullying policy is widely regarded as on of the best in the country.
The policy template, when completed, will be made available to schools free of charge. A timeline has been set to finalize the definitions and policy template so that materials will be available to schools in May 2011.
To finish the session, the group viewed a presentation by Jeff Sisson, who is the Health, Safety and Risk Management Specialist from CVES about the Olweus Anti Bullying Program. This affordable program involves not only the teachers and staff of the participating school but also the students, parents and the community in a culture changing educational process. Olweus has over 30 years of expertise and research shows it to significantly reduce bullying behavior when used as prescribed.
The next task force meeting is scheduled for March 10. If you would like to participate please contact Wanda McQueen the Project Administrator at 561-0100 ext. 357.