Overton ISD Responses to Bullying Inadequate

On its website, Overton ISD has a page that addresses bullying with information copied from the federal website stopbullying.gov as well as links to the site. It’s good information. We think that the High School Principal and the School Superintendent should both read the information on that page as well as the linked website.

The same student(s) have been accused of bullying repeatedly since last school year. We feel that the actions of the administrative staff to resolve the previous complaints has been woefully inadequate to stop these students from continuing to perpetuate the bullying of other students.

The school district has enacted inadequate policies and procedures to address this situation in violation of state laws; specifically failure to prohibit bullying, to prevent retaliation for reporting bullying, failure to provide reasonable methods to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying, and lack of available counseling resources for victims of bullying.

We feel that the Principal, Kendall Smith, has failed to insure that students can expect to have a safe environment to pursue their education. It has reached the point to where one of the mothers of the student who is bullying others is ordering her daughter to physically assault another student. Without a timely resolution we fully expect this issue to lead to violence. The Overton School District needs to act immediately: we consider the actions of that parent, her daughter and her accomplisses to be a clear and present danger to other students.

During the 82nd Texas Legislature session lawmakers passed House Bill 1942 which requires school districts respond to reports of bullying in a consistent and proactive manner.

From Texas Association of School Boards:
What is Bullying?
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, state law will define bullying as engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that: (1) has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; or (2) is sufficiently severe, persistent and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive educational environment for a student.

Conduct is considered bullying if it (1) exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct; and (2) interferes with a student’s education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school.

School Board’s Role
Beginning with the 2012-13 school year, school boards must adopt policies and administrative procedures that: (1) prohibit bullying; (2) prohibit retaliation against any person, witness, or another person who in good faith provides information regarding bullying; (3) establish a
procedure for providing notice of an incident of bullying to a parent or guardian within a reasonable period; (4) establish the actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying; (5) set out available counseling options for a student who is a victim of, is a witness to, or engages in bullying; (6) establish reporting and investigation procedures; (7) prohibit school officials from disciplining a student who is the victim of bullying, for the student’s use of reasonable self-defense in response to bullying; and (8) require that the discipline of a student with disabilities for bullying complies with federal law, including the IDEA.

School boards must also amend the bullying transfer provisions in current board policy. Currently, school boards have the authority only to transfer the victim of bullying to another classroom or campus. Effective with the 2012-13 school year, a school board may also transfer a student who
engages in bullying to (1) another classroom at the campus to which the victim was assigned at the time the bullying occurred; or (2) another campus in the district other than the campus to which the victim was assigned at the time the bullying occurred.

New board adopted anti-bullying policies and administrative procedures must be included annually in the student and employee handbooks and the district improvement plan. The procedure for reporting bullying must be posted on the district’s web site, to the extent practicable.