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Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Redwood school district changes bullying policy

  • When it comes to bullying, the Redwood Area School District has an established policy, but that policy is going to be altered because of what happened in St. Paul this year....
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  • When it comes to bullying, the Redwood Area School District is not immune to its realities. It also has an established policy, but that policy is going to be altered because of what happened in St. Paul this year. 
    According to Rick Ellingworth, Redwood Area School District (RASD) superintendent, the school’s policy committee is looking at the required changes, adding a policy developed by the Minnesota School Board Associa-tion is being utilized as the school district puts its plan together. “There are not a lot of changes that are needed,” said Wade Mathers, who serves on the policy committee. “I think the new legislation successfully defines what bullying is. The new policy also requires training for all staff in the district.” While the policy is required the manner through which bullying is handled is not really going to change much for the district, as it already has a policy in place it believes has been effective. “When there is a verified case of bullying we investigate it,” said Rick Jorgenson, RVHS principal. “For us it’s about using some common sense.” Jorgenson said the concept of bullying is addressed in the character education program being offered to high school students, and he said that is going to continue. Stephanie Flickinger, Reede Gray principal, said the issue of bullying has been address-ed at the elementary level through the Cardinal Code. Mathers said at the middle school bullying is addressed in a variety of ways, adding an official form was developed called a “Cease and Desist” document, and he said when the students who are accused of bullying see that form come out things change quickly. All of the administration stressed the fact that parents are in-volved when it be-comes necessary adding parents are kept in the loop to ensure they know what is going on regarding their kids. In recent years, bullying issues have been on the rise in one particular area – through social media. Called cyberbullying, the issue has become a problem is schools, and Jorgenson said even if the incident does not happen on school grounds but it impacts the student as they are in school it can be and is going to be addressed. Bert Doll and Jen Otto, who serve as social workers for the local school district, said the incidents of bullying often happen outside of the classroom – in the hallways, cafeteria and even on the school bus. Those places where supervision is limited lead to greater bullying issues. Doll and Otto both said they are confident in what the school district offers, but they also say they know more can be done. Schools are now stressing the importance of not being a bystander with students, adding those who watch as bullying occurs are by their silence becoming as much of the problem as those acting as bullies. Tamarah Frank, a 2014 RVHS graduate worked on a bullying program as part of her Girl Scout gold award. Frank said she sees the importance of getting the anti-bullying issue in the minds of kids at an early age. She provides information online for people to learn from at fightagainstbullyingnow.blogspot.com. “Bullying is a serious issue and we all need to learn more about it,” said Otto, adding that doesn’t end when students leave school.

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