Two groups of concerned parents attended the Mountain View School Board meeting on Monday to voice their concerns about student bullying. Several parents sat together in the board room and asked to speak during the comment period.
The mother of a high school girl said extreme bullying has caused her daughter to not attend school in more than a week and has led to severe mental distress. She said that she has spoken to the Principal Robert Presley, and curriculum director, Michael Elia. Because some of the bullying began online, she was referred to state police. She said that state troopers are investigating. “My daughter is in therapy and saying she’d rather be
dead than deal with what she is going through,” she told the board.
Another audience member said that she had contacted district administrators after hearing complaints through her work. “I feel that the training for dealing with abuse is letting the kids down,” she said.
A third speaker said that her elementary school son has experienced ongoing bullying including some physical abuse, like hair pulling.
One young woman said she was bullied while attending Mountain View in 2012 and is still traumatized by that experience, especially when she enters the high school building. “It was not easy to deal with. I’m having an anxiety attack right now,” she said tearfully.
Board president Jason Richmond said that even one student undergoing bullying was too many, and engaged in conversation in the meeting with the parents. “It’s something that our administrators and board take very seriously.”
Presley noted that he has been actively addressing bullying complaints and other issues of student safety on a daily basis. He said that in the past week, one night he was calling parents late at night to ensure the student was safe after getting a report. The next night he called a student’s home after a safety concern was reported. He said that he and another administrator worked on a reported bullying case for most of one day and part of the next.
“We are addressing these reports as soon as we get them, but it is important to let us know that there is an issue so that we can,” he said. “I need help from parents to say, this is what’s going on, from home.”
Presley urged parents and students to download the “Safe to Say” anonymous reporting app to their cellphones. He noted that seven students have already used the anonymous tip line, and that a tip can be marked as an emergency. He also said that any administrator can be directly approached at school.
The board members received a report on the new “Safe to Say” app’s use in their school director packets for the meeting.
The board approved Policy 824, Maintaining Professional Adult/ Student Boundaries, after extensive changes and discussion at a recent policy meeting. The policy, written by the state school board association, had sparked controversy at a previous board meeting. In the process, the board removed multiple lines under social interactions in their entirety, and revised several other lines. The revised policy will be available for view on the school website and district office.
Richmond thanked the many persons who were involved in the revision of this policy.
At the start of the board meeting, Kirsten Smith, Grants and Education Officer for WVIA, gave a presentation pledging support for Mountain View Student Government Association’s successful bid to host the state conference at Kalahari in the Poconos. Smith, who is a Mountain View student parent, said that of the 47 school districts covered by the station, “At the top of my list was your district.”
She noted exceptional news stories that came from the school district, including Emma DeMark winning the Distinguished Teacher Award last year as well as Artist of the Week highlights. “Mountain View made the best TV last year.”
High School Principal Robert Presley said that the SGA was up against much bigger schools, but was able to secure their bid to host the conference.
Another presentation was made by Terri Kelsey, Professional Development Coordinator, on the revised 2019-20 district calendar. She noted that six days have been built into the calendar that can be used for snow days. She said that this year, teacher conferences will not replace school days.