ALPENA - National news stories along with a few local court cases linked with bullying have administrators at Alpena Public Schools looking at the policies and programs in schools throughout the district.
In a presentation to the board of education, Superintendent Brent Holcomb said most of the discussion started at the court level where Judge Thomas LaCross of the 26th Circuit Court Family Division wanted to know whether there were bullying initiatives within the schools.
Eric Cardwell, principal of Sanborn School, said all of the elementary schools have implemented the Michigan Integrated Behavior and Learning Support Initiative to stay bully-free. The program is proactive in managing student behaviors by highlighting student expectations through training and the establishment of school behavioral norms.
According to Hinks Principal Tim Wedge, the initiative has a component where major and minor student behaviors are tracked as well as a parent communication piece to show parents when they have to talk to them about their child's behavior.
"What we're doing in the elementary (schools), again, it's very proactive," he said. "We're not being reactive to any of the bullying."
Thunder Bay Junior High also has been active in bully prevention, according to Principal Michelle Cornish. She said because there were so many new students and staff, the bully policy was revised and a bully prevention week for students was held. The school also is allowing students to submit their own quotes and tips about bully prevention to be read on school announcements, and sixth grade students are being taught about bully prevention through school success.
Matt Poli, principal at Alpena High School, said students have participated in activities such as Challenge Day and the Doc Brown Assembly. Poli said Officer Tim Marquardt also has been a great resource to work with on some of the issues.
"Kids become more stealth-like as they get older; they become much more creative on how they bully. Many things have changed over the years," Poli said, adding cyberspace has been hard for the district and community to put their hands around.
Lisa Siegert of School Success said LaCross has enabled school success workers to make referrals to the court for preliminary inquiry into bullying behavior. She said it means students who continue bullying behavior after multiple interventions will be summoned to LaCross to discuss the consequences of their behavior.
"That's going to be a huge asset for us if we have a student continuing with their bullying behavior ," she said. "We can send them to Judge LaCross, who will hopefully have a little bit more of an impact on their behavior than just the school saying you have to stop."
Crystal Nelson can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5693.