GROVE CITY — As the school year is set to begin, everyone from custodians to teachers and administrators to school bus drivers are being trained this week on the new bullying policy at the Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City School District.
The state passed legislation this year that requires schools to take proactive steps to prevent bullying and provides direction for how to report and investigate suspected cases of bullying.
Superintendent Sherri Broderius said most of what the state now requires has been in place at ACGC for more than a decade, and on top of that, the district has conducted numerous programs focused on giving students tools to address bullying.
But last month the board approved a revised bullying policy to comply with the new state standards that, in essence, require all school personnel to be “reporters” if they witness acts of bullying.
The staff will be the “eyes and ears” in the hallways, football field, buses and classrooms, Broderius said.
The policy also requires the school to investigate legitimate reports of bullying that meet five standards, such as acts that are threatening or intimidating that happen over time, Broderius said. The parents of the victim and accused bully will be contacted as part of the process.
There are multiple components to the bullying policy, but Broderius said the goal is to create an environment where “kids feel safe at school and they can talk to us.”
Broderius said the clear message to students and staff is that “bullying isn’t allowed and won’t be tolerated.”
But the legislation also refers to protecting student information and privacy, and on Monday the ACGC school board also approved a “partner policy” that protects students’ privacy — including a student who may have been disciplined for being a bully.
Broderius said it’s common for parents of a bullied child to want to know what actions the school took against the bully.
“We will not talk about other people’s kids and share their disciplinary issues with other families,” Broderius said.
District chosen for ‘higher level thinking’ training
The board was also informed Monday that the district is one of four in the state selected as a demonstration site to receive intensive training on how to teach highly complex topics and “higher-level thinking.”
The two-year training will come from Resource Training and Solutions, an education service cooperative.
ACGC is the smallest and most rural district of the group selected for the training program. The unique training includes program for those in grades pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade.
The training will help teachers prepare students to be the “type of thinkers” needed to solve current world problems.
“It’s going to be one of the most exciting things ever,” Broderius said.
District waits for blue ribbon news
The district is awaiting word if it’s been selected for recognition by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program.
ACGC is one of two Minnesota schools in the running for the prestigious award, which will be presented this fall in Washington, D.C.,
ACGC’s blue ribbon nomination is partially the result of the district’s rapid turnaround in improving student test scores.
To help build on that past success, the school board will conduct a workshop and community meeting 6 p.m. September 11 to “weave together” the goals of the school board, district and superintendent.
Broderius said the district is looking for additional community members from a diverse background to serve on an advisory committee to help provide input on needs and expectations of the district.