Zero tolerance for bullying at MSBSD - Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: Columnists

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Zero tolerance for bullying at MSBSD

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Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:33 pm | Updated: 5:51 pm, Fri Sep 13, 2013.

Mat-Su Borough School District would like to thank the Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman for its efforts in working with the district to help educate our community on school bullying. The Mat-Su Borough School District is currently taking important steps to further our zero tolerance for bullying in our schools.

As superintendent of the Mat-Su Borough School District I can assure you that it is our school board's goal to make every student successful. To accomplish such an important goal, it requires a commitment from every single district employee to make school a place of joy.

As a district, we dedicate extensive professional development resources for our teachers and staff members. Providing each employee the tools to educate, prevent and respond immediately to the varying types of bullying that may occur in schools helps change student behavior.

Most recently, all of the district's 44 schools received training from Randy Sprick of Safe and Civil Schools. Dr. Sprick is the country's leading expert in the area of school climate. Sprick's CHAMPS and Secondary Discipline have been the curricula guiding our schools to bolster their school climates. Using research-based strategies, schools are able to build the necessary foundations of improving student behavior. It is important that students know the expectations in terms of behavior when they arrive at school, during transitions between classes, in the lunchroom, at recess and during class time.

Parents and community stakeholders may hear teachers and principals discussing changing school climate and helping students be in class on time, prepared with necessary supplies, and staying on-task. One positive behavior intervention support strategy is known as CHAMPS. District-wide, this strategy helps teachers in schools improve classroom behavior, establish clear classroom behavior expectations and motivate students to put forth their best efforts.

The letters in the acronym CHAMPS stand for conversation, help, activity, movement, participation and success.

To measure how we are doing in the area of school climate, the district is participating in the Alaska State School Board's School Climate Survey during the first two weeks of February - all students in grades five through 12. The survey collects a baseline of data to share with community stakeholders. The data will also provide the district with critical information that will help guide our continued professional development.

In this year's strategic plan, the MSBSD School Board has equity as one of its goals. Therefore, equity is one of the components of district professional development. Two nationally recognized presenters/trainers are working with principals and teachers throughout this school year. Two of the strategic goals of the equity professional development are:

1. Developing culturally responsive guidelines for the district.

2. Raising awareness and implementing the guidelines to ensure that we are culturally responsive to all students.

Without question, the Mat-Su Borough School District makes the safety of our children our No. 1 priority. Bullying has no place in Mat-Su schools. Eliminating this behavior requires vigilance by all educators, students, parents and community members. We invite families and community leaders in the Mat-Su Borough to help our schools become the very best in the country.

Deena M. Paramo is superintendent of the Mat-Su Borough School District.


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  • FORD posted at 6:56 am on Wed, Feb 1, 2012.

    FORD Posts: 488

    Parents can easily counter the idea of a child being punished for defending themselves. I had a simular issue with one of my children and I explained that it is never wrong to defend oneself. When they stood up and took on the bully I backed my child to the point of celebrating their right of self defense. The bulling stopped and life was much better. When called into the school I calmly defended my childs right of self defense and explained that if my child were allowed to be attacked again I would file a suit against the principle for allowing the bullying to continue in the school. My child never had another problem with this. I suggest all parents teach their children that defending themselves is a basic right that no one can take away from them. Bullying will stop when we no longer accept allowing our children to be victims.

  • 2themoon posted at 10:08 pm on Sat, Jan 28, 2012.

    2themoon Posts: 1

    My child has been bullied for several years at school and on the bus. It's been many things from being called an expletive, to being punched in the face, and actually being told that she would be killed. The zero tolerance policy in this school district is a JOKE. Several times I have asked (principal, teachers, bus barn) what can my child do...or what we can do as parents, but told nothing but that they can talk to or tell an adult. Because if my child "retaliates" then she as well will be punished. But at what time can my child defend him self? I have even called the Troopers and was told, "Kids will be kids".

    More money for training is not what is needed, but for the MSBSD schools to take action and DISCIPLINE, instead of coddling these bully's and then sending them back to class!

    I have lived in Wasilla my whole life and attended MSBSD schools. Back in the day, this was just not tolerated! I can say without a doubt, that I am appalled and ashamed of what our school district has become.

  • suvalley posted at 7:21 am on Sat, Jan 28, 2012.

    suvalley Posts: 26

    The MSBSD already has a zero tolerance policy on bullying. In this way, they manage to punish the victim as well as the offender.

    When this occurs, children learn to keep quiet and accept the intimidation, and pass their school days in fear. This is not an unfounded accusation, it does occur as kids learn to cope in a crowded environment with iron clad rules of acceptable conduct.

    The lesson they take away from this is that defending yourself gets you punished. With current policies taking away most rights from them, they are left defenceless against the bully...and the administration too. Parents have even less influence over this than the child, since they were marginalized when they ceded control over their children at enrolment.

    Whatever costly training and professional assessment the MSBSD invests in, will not remedy bullying in our schools. Some kids are leaders, most are followers, and all the money thrown at the problem will not resolve the issue.


    A parent of a child attending MSBSD schools

  • posted at 6:35 pm on Fri, Jan 27, 2012.


    ...and just today my daughter comes home from elementary school after being called a racial name (my daughter is mixed race) ironic.

  • yuuyaraq posted at 11:07 am on Fri, Jan 27, 2012.

    yuuyaraq Posts: 91

    Well said. Strong message.

    Paul Maguire

  • FORD posted at 9:40 am on Fri, Jan 27, 2012.

    FORD Posts: 488

    This is a very confusing article considering Randy's organization Safe and Civil Schools, is against zero tolerance because it treats all offenses the same and hands out maximum punishment for minimal problems. This is from their site.

    A discussion of the Zero Tolerance policy as implemented in schools and its contribution to the dropout rate and juvenile incarceration—a trend commonly referred to as the "school-to-prison pipeline" or the "schoolhouse to jailhouse track."

    Seems like we need to have zero tolerance for zero tolerance policies!



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