School officials respond to reports of bullying, harassment

By: Julie Snyder | C&G Newspapers | Published November 21, 2016

 Jackie Johnston

Jackie Johnston

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — In the wake of the tumultuous 2016 presidential election, both local and state education officials are reaching out to parents in regard to concerns of discontent among students.

State Superintendent Brian Whiston confirmed in a letter that since the Nov. 8 election, “there have been a number of reported incidents in Michigan schools of students harassing, bullying, intimidating and using hateful speech toward other students.”

“I realize that certainly at the national level over the past year, we saw the (presidential) debate go to a new low, and that is impacting the actions, demeanor and mood in some of our schools,” Whiston wrote. “Our schools must be safe havens for our children — free from hate; free from intimidation; free from bullying; and free from fear.

“We need to cultivate and develop in our students a steadfast respect for all others, inclusive of race, religion, orientation or socioeconomic standing,” he continued. “We must not let political rhetoric and actions diminish the positive learning environments we’ve worked so hard to nourish.”

Whiston reached out to educators, principals, teachers and parents across the state to help students understand that bullying and intimidation, both in word and action, is unacceptable and will have consequences.

“Regrettably, similar incidents have occurred in L’Anse Creuse,” LCPS Superintendent Jackie Johnston wrote in a letter to district parents. “We embrace the sentiments of State Superintendent Whiston and ask for your help in ensuring our students are learning in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Kelly Allen, director of public and community relations for the district, said that while school officials are unable to disclose any kind of disciplinary action taken in relation to such instances, the number of reports regarding such behavior is not significant.

“But we have had a few,” she said.

Allen also said it doesn’t appear that more reports are coming from one age group or another; specifically, no more are being made at the high schools, the middle school or the elementary schools.

“We really just wanted to be able to voice our concern (in light of Whiston’s announcement),” Allen said. “We want our kids to come to school and feel safe and not worry that they will be picked on because mom or dad voted for someone and didn’t for for someone else.”

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