A stronger, clearer policy prohibiting bullying and harassment in Coeur d’Alene schools will be in place in the fall.
The Coeur d’Alene School Board adopted the revised policy Monday night, four months after parents confronted the board about how school officials handle bullying, including when it happens with phones and social media.
Some on the school board said the problem is broader than how students treat one another.
“We’ve dealt with our students and to a degree we’ve dealt with our staff,” board Chairman Tom Hamilton said. “We have other bullies in our district that we’re going to need to deal with. I don’t think we can lose sight of the fact that we need to deal with our adults.”
Board member Terri Seymour said cyberbullying – intimidating or harmful behavior using electronic communication – is a community problem. She singled out local news blogs – Huckleberries on The Spokesman-Review’s website and Coeur d’Alene Press blogs – for attracting bullies.
“It is unbelievable how nasty and vicious people can be,” Seymour said. “And here we are as a school district trying to teach our children not to do this, not to cyberbully, not to bully, when the parents and the adults are doing exactly what the students are learning to do.”
The policy now spells out prohibited behavior and procedures for reacting to bullying and harassment, including timely reporting, investigation and disciplinary action.
In a key change, schools must tell parents or guardians of both the aggressor and victim when harassment, intimidation or bullying occurs. Officials also will notify parents of the action taken to prevent further bullying or retaliation.
Parents wanted to see “consistency and teeth” in the district’s policy, Hamilton said.
All families of students will receive a copy of the revised policy at the start of the school year.
School upgrades update
The board Monday also heard an update on planned school upgrades, including a proposal to tear down and rebuild Winton Elementary School instead of remodeling it. Construction would begin in summer 2014, and students would attend school at another site for the 2014-15 school year.
Winton and four other schools were slated for renovation in a $32.7 million bond approved by voters last August. But Winton, built in 1928, is too old and inadequate to renovate in a way that meets modern needs, the district determined following community meetings on how to proceed.
The district said it can afford to rebuild the school thanks to expected savings from the renovation of Canfield Middle School and Borah, Bryan and Sorensen elementary schools.
Work will begin June 10 on Canfield and Sorensen schools. The district also plans to overhaul school security this summer – a project to be funded by the district’s two-year supplemental tax levy. The work will include more secure school entrances. A computerized door lock system is being tested now at Coeur d’Alene High School.