Albuquerque Public Schools is planning two community meetings in June so people can comment about how best to confront bullying.
Dealing with bullying, which has been a volatile issue at several recent board meetings, is part of APS’ goal of providing “a safe and supportive climate for learning and working that maximizes student achievement.”
The board recently learned that bullying is handled differently among schools. Some have developed effective prevention programs, but there are five different programs in use, mostly funded by grant money. Board member Kathy Korte has called for the district to streamline the anti-bullying programs.
APS Chief Operating Officer Brad Winter said comments from the June community meetings will be used to develop a districtwide bullying prevention plan. Details of those meetings have not been set yet.
Superintendent Winston Brooks said he met recently with middle school principals, who urged him to be careful about the word “bullying,” which is sometimes used to describe any conflict between students. He said principals told him they hadn’t seen an increase in bullying, so much as an increase in the use of the term. He emphasized the principals did not deny bullying is happening.
“The word ‘bullying’ has become the catchall for anything,” Brooks said. “A kid walks into the office, and instead of in the old days they’d say, ‘some kid pushed me,’ it’s now, ‘I’m being bullied.’ It’s just become a common household term, and that’s what’s so difficult for the principals. They don’t, quite frankly, see an increase in bullying. They do see an increase in the use of the term bullying.”
Other action plans in the “school climate” goal include:
⋄ Continue to push for making APS police a stand-alone department.
⋄ Monitor more closely whether fire drills are happening as often as required, and require lockdown drills at all facilities.
⋄ Create a database of students who have made threats against others and assess seriousness of threats.
⋄ Continue efforts to address drug and alcohol use by students. Specifically, this includes providing substance abuse education, counseling and referral services at all high schools.
After a series of community meetings this year, the board narrowed its previous eight goals to four. The other three goals are improving student achievement with an emphasis on closing the achievement gap, maintaining sound and transparent financial stewardship and improving family and community involvement.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal