FAIRFIELD, Conn. Bullying is a problem in schools. But Andrea Leonardi, director of special education, pupil services and special programs, and Fairfields Board of Education are taking steps to stop it before it happens.
This has really been a long time coming, said Sue Brand, chair of the boards policy subcommittee. It may not be perfect, but honestly its very thorough.
The board took its first look at changes in the districts bullying policy at its meeting Tuesday night. The new plan would add specific references to cyberbullying, mentioning the Internet and cell phone communication. It would also add direct mentions to exclusion and discrimination as forms of bullying along with physical attacks and name-calling, to match changes in the states policy .
But along with expanding what it considers bullying, the school boards proposed policy change would also change the way Fairfield handles offenders and victims. Leonardi said the biggest change would be in preventing bullying from occurring in the first place. Starting in the 2012-13 school year, the district would institute a Safe School Climate Plan with hopes of changing the environment at schools.
Its going to change from response only to prevention, intervention and response, Leonardi said. I am hopeful that we can create a policy that really does improve school climate, and make bullying not part of the conversation.
The climate change would include more supervision at areas such as playgrounds and lunchrooms, where much bullying can occur. It would also build a curriculum to work anti-bullying messages into lesson plans.
If the board approves the Safe School Climate Plan when its ready at the end of the year, beginning next July the district would also appoint a staff member to be the Safe School Climate coordinator, to oversee anti-bullying programs at all Fairfield schools. Each school will choose one teacher or administrator to be its own Safe School Climate specialist and appoint a committee to make sure the school handles bullying cases properly.
The board will vote on the policy change at its next meeting. The full Safe Schools Climate Plan will also come to a vote at the end of 2011.
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