Bullies begone

Once again Coupeville schools have proven themselves ahead of the curve, this time on the issue of how to deal with the issue of student bullying.

Last month, Gov. Gary Locke signed a bill mandating the adoption of anti-bullying policies in all state schools by August 2003, with a model program to be drawn up by the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Coupeville School District has had such policies in place for a while.

Superintendent Suzanne Bond said she was glad to see the issue get state-wide recognition. “I think the problem has been here as long as I’ve been in the business,” Bond said. “It’s an area you want to put a lot of time into.”

Bond said that about five years ago middle and high school principal Phyllis Textor was designated as the person to deal with incidences of student violence. The district has violence reports that teachers fill out, allowing administrators to track students who might be behaving badly. “Without doing that, you’re not aware as quickly” of a given student’s aggressive tendencies, Bond said.

“There’s a fine line where teasing becomes hurtful behavior,” she added.

Bond said bullying is largely an issue of respect and character. “If we are constantly talking about mutual respect, then there’s going to be less bullying,” Bond said. She added that any anti-bullying policy should also have a means of holding mean kids accountable for their behavior.

Once a model policy is formulated at the state level, Bond said administrators in Coupeville will probably review the language “to make sure we’re meeting the letter of the law.”

Textor did not immediately return phone calls.

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