Bullying takes on many forms and descriptions, but at Monday night’s meeting of the Switzerland County School Board one thing was made clear by concerned parents: the corporation’s policy needs to be looked at and strengthened.
During the public comments portion of the meeting, parent Adam Curry addressed the board about bullying that is going on with his son as the victim.
“I know that there’s a few things being done for this, but I want to make sure it remains at the forefront,” Adam Curry told the board. “My son has been the victim of a bullying situation on the school bus for the better part of a year. He’s been verbally bullied, hit, thrown at, spit on. The bus driver really hasn’t done nothing at all.”
Adam Curry told the board that he has been told that there have been assigned seats on the bus, but that they are not being enforced.
“We were asked if our son wanted to be in the front of the bus or the back, and we said ‘front’,” Adam Curry continued. “But the person doing the bullying has been allowed to sit right beside him or behind him to intimidate my son, or whatever his agenda is.”
Adam Curry said that the last situation occurred just over a week ago, and he said that he doesn’t see the problem as much inside the school as he does coming off of the bus and into the school. He said that the situation has to be seen by the driver and possibly others, and he just wants something to be done so that his son can attend school without fear.
“This needs to be stopped now,” Adam Curry said. “I’ve told my son to stand up for himself, but my kid’s going to be the one in trouble because he’s finally going to get to the point where enough’s enough, because nobody’s doing what they’re supposed to to take up for him.”
Adam Curry said that his son has reported the bullying to officials, and that his wife has been down to the school to address the matter – but it’s not stopped.”
School Board President Nancy Peters asked Adam Curry to leave a way for her to contact him after the board has looked into the matter.
“I just feel that, again, this is just being brushed under the rug,” Cathy Curry, the boy’s grandmother, told the board. “It’s leave us your information, and that’s what they keep getting told at the schools. I was told that we would be called back to see if we could be put on the agenda, but I had to call. I know you’re busy, but this is just something that my grandson has been going through too long.”
Cathy Curry said that she’s also talked with several other people who say that their children are also being bullied in school.
“Supposedly we have a zero tolerance policy on bullying, but nothing’s happening except that the kids are being bullied,” Cathy Curry said. “So what I think we want to know – other than ‘do you have contact information’, is what’s going to be done? Who’s going to be looking into it?”
Superintendent Mike Jones said that the matter specifically and bullying generally has been looked into at all schools, and that some disciplinary measures have already been taken. He said that the school has a bullying policy, and that he has asked school attorney Ron Hocker to revisit the current policy and see if there are any updates that need to be made to it.
Ron Hocker stated that the school board in 2010 adopted the Indiana Department of Education’s policy, and also adopted not just the policy, but the entire statement on bullying from the state.
“It covers the situation, it’s a matter of the investigation,” Ron Hocker said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with your policy. I think what they’re asking for is more enforcement.”
Adam Curry also asked about the law concerning video cameras being on school buses. He said that his son rides two different buses to and from school, and one of the buses has a camera, but the other one doesn’t.
Mike Jones said that there is no law governing video cameras on buses, but that most of the Switzerland County buses did have cameras, but not all.
Technology director John Sieglitz said that there are about a dozen buses that still have the VCR-recorded videos, which are out of date. He said that the corporation has already been talking about replacing those and all buses in the system with new, state-of-the-art digital ones, and that he has prices for them (approximately $100,000) and is looking for the funding.