Muncie Schools pass required anti-bullying plan

By The Associated Press

MUNCIE — A new plan in the Muncie Community Schools requires everyone who comes in contact with students to report incidents of bullying immediately.

The anti-bullying plan approved by the school board last week applies to teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and even volunteers, The Star Press reported Monday.

A state law passed this year requires school districts to adopt plans with specific timetables for reporting bullying, reporting methods, and a detailed plan of action once bullying is reported. Tuesday is the deadline for school districts to submit their plans to the state.

A committee consisting of administrators, teachers and a board member began working on the policy in August. The plan was based on an existing code of conduct in students’ handbooks and an Action Plan for Security Enhancement created in 2011.

Chief Academic Officer Ermalene Faulkner said a verbal report of bullying is required immediately to a designated person at each school, generally a guidance counselor. A written report is then required within one school day. Failing to report can result in disciplinary action.

All of the district’s schools now have forms on file to report bullying. The district already had anonymous bullying boxes and a tip line.

Consequences for bullying may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension and expulsion,” Faulkner said. False reporting also will be punishable.

Under the plan parents of both of the bully and the victim must be notified, a detail Parent Wendy Patton likes.

“I think so many times, they just deal with the bully, punish the bully,” Patton said. “I think it’s so important to work with the victim as well. Sometimes, those parents aren’t going to know their kid is being bullied until someone like a principal tells them.”

Faulkner said the district will stay in contact with the affected students.

“You must follow up with the aggressor and the victim,” Faulkner said. “Often times we punish someone in a punitive manner for bullying, but we may not seek help for them. And truly that’s what they need.”

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