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ASD can't enforce its own bullying policy

By Stephen Althouse, WFMZ.com Reporter, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Aug 14 2014 11:32:37 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 15 2014 05:30:05 AM CDT
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

Sometimes good intentions aren't good enough, and during Thursday night's Allentown School District Policy Committee-of-the-Whole meeting, that phrase was the shoe-that-fits for Director David Zimmerman, concerning the first reading of revisions to the district's bullying/cyberbullying policy.
 
"A policy is only as effective as the ability to enforce it," Zimmerman said following a presentation by Nicolas Perez, ASD's director of community and student services.
 
The policy states that ASD "recognizes that creating and maintaining a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students is a high priority in all school district settings."

The district notes bullying can manifest itself in a variety of ways that include, but are not limited to, physical, verbal and written and social/psychological/relational activities.

ASD defines cyberbullying in the same terms as bullying that utilizes technology "via use of the internet by email, instant messaging, personal profile websites, social networking, or text messaging" among others.

Students who violate the policy will be considered in defiance of the district's Code of Conduct with discipline exercised on a "case-by-case basis," according to the policy before directors Thursday night.

The policy would be implemented through the cooperative efforts of Superintendent C. Russell Mayo, "the superintendent's team, building administrators, school employees, parents and guardians, students, school volunteers, the Allentown Police Department and the school district's community."

When a student ascertains they have been a victim of bullying, they are instructed to promptly report it to either a principal, counselor, teacher or another school employee.

Should the principal be the subject of a bullying complaint, the student should report the complaint directly to Mayo, or his designee.

And it is the superintendent or his designee who will investigate complaints promptly.

It was at least one actor in this equation - the administration - that in Zimmerman's view, can't adequately handle their own assignment.

"I do not feel this administration has the power to enforce it and I will not support it," he said.

And moments later when the policy was up for approval Zimmerman was good to his word and cast a "no" vote.

However his colleagues did not share his view, forwarding the policy to the regular board of directors meeting scheduled for August 28th.

In other business Thursday night, directors approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and Lehigh University for the higher-education institution to provide a graduate assistant Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics, commonly known as STEM, expert who will provide professional development to the district's middle school science teachers that focuses on utilizing project-based learning in the classroom.

The agreement provides $28,000 to support the Lehigh graduate assistant for a period of 20 hours per week over the 2014-2015 school year.