News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 21, 2014

Vigo Schools revising anti-bullying policy

Personnel moves also on Monday’s agenda

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The Vigo County School Board on Monday will consider revisions to its anti-bullying policy to comply with a new state law.

The board will meet at 6 p.m. in the administration building, 686 Wabash Ave. The revisions include new timelines for reporting, investigation and follow-up.

According to Ray Azar, director of student services, the changes define bullying more completely than in the past and separate them into various types, including verbal, physical, social/relational and electronic or written.

“With advances in technology, you can bully someone without ever seeing them,” Azar said. “This really gives schools more authority to deal with those kinds of actions, where they interfere with school or present a hostile learning environment for a student or group of students.”

The proposed policy says the bullying behavior “may be subject to school disciplinary procedures regardless of where it happens if the behavior creates a substantial interference with school operations or involves an unreasonable threat to the rights of others to a safe and peaceful learning environment.”

The revisions also establish timelines.  

All employees, volunteers or contracted service providers with knowledge of a bullying situation “are required to verbally report the incident to the school principal or designee immediately or as soon as possible.” A written report shall be made by the reporting party within 48 hours of the verbal report.

Once a report is received, the principal will initiate an investigation, which should be completed within five school days, if possible. Others who might be involved in the investigation include a school counselor, administrators or law enforcement.

The policy also lists possible disciplinary and intervention actions that range from parent contact and conferences or positive behavior supports all the way to out-of-school suspension and request for expulsion.

 Each school must keep a record of numbers and categories of bullying incidents.

The policy calls for annual training of school staff, and it also states that teachers or other school staff — including administrators — who fail to initiate and/or conduct an investigation of a bullying incident, are subject to discipline.

The policy will have a first-reading on Monday.

In personnel matters, the board will act on a recommendation to appoint Chris Mauk as the new principal at West Vigo Elementary, effective July 28. He replaces Peggy Pfrank, who is retiring. Mauk has been the principal at Terre Haute South Vigo High School.

There will be two spotlights, including a presentation on DECA at Terre Haute North and South Vigo high schools. The second spotlight will recognize two adult education staff members who received awards from the Indiana Association for Adult and Continuing Education at a statewide conference.

Elizabeth Debow, education assistant for adult education, received the Outstanding Paraprofessional of the Year award. Jeff Clutter, college and career preparation manager, received the Outstanding Administrator of the Year award.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.