Bullying down in local schools | VailDaily.com

Bullying down in local schools

Cindy Ramunno
Red Sandstone Elementary students enjoy the snow flurries during recess before the holiday break.

The Eagle County School District’s Board of Education has taken a serious stance on the issue of “bullying.” Board members, in fact, support a secure school climate conducive to teaching and learning, free from threat, harassment and bullying behavior. The purpose of the policy is to promote consistency of approach and to help create a climate in which all types of bullying are regarded as unacceptable.

Bullying is defined as any written or verbal expression, physical act or gesture or pattern thereof intended to cause distress upon one or more students in the school environment. The “school environment” includes school buildings, grounds, vehicles, bus stops and all school-sponsored activities and events.

A student who engages in any act of bullying is subject to disciplinary action, including suspension, expulsion and referral to law-enforcement authorities.

The following is a list of the goals that this policy hopes to achieve:

– Send a clear message to students, staff, parents and community members that bullying will not be tolerated.

– Train staff and students in taking pro-active steps to prevent bullying from occurring.

– Implement procedures for immediate intervention with, investigation of and confrontation with students engaged in bullying behavior.

– Initiate efforts to change the behavior of students engaged in bullying behaviors through re-education on acceptable behavior, discussions, counseling and appropriate negative consequences.

– Foster a productive partnership with parents and community members in order to help maintain a bully-free environment.

– Support victims of bullying by means of individual and peer counseling.

– Help develop peer support networks, social skills and confidence for all students.

– Recognize and praise positive, supportive behaviors of students toward one another on a regular basis.

Meadow Mountain principal Carolyn Neff says bullying hasn’t actually increased.

“We have such awareness now,” she says. “We cover it in counseling and really work with kids.”

Brush Creek Elementary kindergartner Blaine Cahill says he feels very safe at school and has never been bullied. And Eagle Valley High School freshmen agree.

“For the most part I feel safe at EVHS – just a little hazing, but it’s all in fun,” says Kenina Narrero.

Kylan Kottenstette says he has experienced absolutely no hazing or initiation.

“I feel very safe at EVHS,” he says.

Assistant principal Jeff Lueders says he hasn’t seen any hazing this year. “If it’s going on, it’s underground,” he says.

Middle-school principals says they enforce a tough “zero tolerance” policy for bullying and hazing.

“I think that bullying has gone on as long as people have been around. We make kids aware of it when they’re doing it,” says Eagle Valley Middle School principal Jerry Santoro. “It won’t decrease unless you’re standing next to it.”

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