Photo not worth 1,000 words

chokehold
A Facebook photo of a principal restraining a girl who’d been fighting resulted in suspensions — for 10 students who “cyber-bullied” the girl.

Principal Todd Whitmire isn’t in trouble, despite a Facebook photo that appears to show him choking a ninth-grade girl. Ashley Johnson, 15, fell as he was pulling her away from a fight, Whitmire told the Contra Costa Times.

Ten students were suspended for “racist and derogatory comments” about the photo, the principal said. ”It was the reposting, the retweeting, and keeping it alive and assigning negative comments to it and creating a hostile environment.”

The fight apparently had been planned on social media, which is why the principal was right there.

Johnson and the boy she was fighting also were suspended. She’s now wearing a neck brace and blaming Whitmire. In an at-home interview, she claimed to be “unable to move,” but a classroom video taken the day before by a school resource officer shows her moving easily, the Times reports.

Teachers: Suspensions are down, but so is safety

Denver schools have cut suspensions and expulsions dramatically, but some teachers say their schools aren’t safe, reports Jenny Brundin on Colorado Public Radio.

“Students have threatened to follow teachers home and jump them,” says Greg Ahrnsbrak, who teaches at Bruce Randolph, a 6th-12th grade school in north Denver.

 We’ve had students who have threatened to bring a gun and kill teachers. We’ve had students who’ve threatened to kill all of us with a bomb. Our administrators have tried to expel some of them and they’re told they can’t.

“Our schools are safe,” says Assistant Superintendent Antwan Wilson.

But, nearly all of the staff at Denver’s Morey Middle School, Bruce Randolph and Munroe Elementary schools signed a letter complaining there are no consequences for fighting or cursing at a teacher.

A local parent and youth activist group Padres y Jovenes Unidos, pushed for the new discipline policy. “We had thousands of students being referred to the police for minor discipline issues, like being disruptive in class,” says Lalo Montoya.

Now the discipline process is complex, writes Brundin. “In order to get a belligerent kid removed from school or even class, it takes multiple steps, and sometimes weeks of documentation that teachers say cuts into teaching time. Kids know that and push boundaries.”

A teacher, who didn’t want to use her name, says she used to be able to ask a disruptive student to leave the classroom, knowing the student would leave.

And now they won’t. They refuse. So you’ve got to call security. Actually,  just yesterday, I had a student who was using horrible language, just yelling these awful, awful things. I asked him to stop. He said he would and he didn’t. And then he started laying hands on some of the other students, kicking, hitting, pushing. Just very violent. So I called for security. Security comes out and says, “I will ask him to come with me, but I can tell you right now, he’s not going to come.”

Students can be sent to an in-school-suspension room, where they’re supposed to get counseling. But schools don’t have enough counselors.

Student: When kids get real angry, they just be cussin’ at the teachers, and the teachers really don’t even do nothin’. They just send us to the SI office. You just sit down, do your work and just wait until the next period and get your stuff and go!

Students can be suspended or expelled for bringing guns or knives to school, Wilson says. He concedes schools need more support to make the new discipline policy work. An extra $1.5 million is budgeted for mental health specialists next year, targeting mainly middle schools.

Via Education Week.

Middle school bullies are the cool kids

Bullies who pick fights or spread nasty rumors are the “cool” kids in middle school, according to psychologists who surveyed seventh and eighth graders in Los Angeles, reports Live Science.

“The ones who are cool bully more, and the ones who bully more are seen as cool,” study researcher Jaana Juvonen, a UCLA professor of psychology, said in a statement.

The study is published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.

Anti-bullying campaigns should focus on persuading bystanders to show they disapprove of bullying, advised Juvenon.

Bullies often target unpopular children who are less likely to be defended by onlookers, notes Live Science.

Via Education News.

Mediating peace

When fights broke out between girls at a Maryland alternative school, Howard Community College’s conflict resolution counselors mediated the dispute and trained school staff in “restorative” strategies to keep the peace.  The fighting stopped and suspensions, behavior referrals and unexcused absences went down.

Bullying worries

Bullying and harassment are a serious problem in local schools, say 74 percent of respondents to a Public Agenda survey. However, illegal drugs and lack of respect for teachers raised even more concerns.

Parents were slightly less worried about bullying, drugs and respect.

Physical fighting and cheating in schools are lesser concerns for both the total public (59 percent and 55 percent, respectively) and parents (55 percent for fighting, 48 percent for cheating).

More than a third of Americans say they were bullied in school, but only 8 percent say they were bullied “a lot.”

Punishing the victim

When three girls beat up another girl in a New York City school, the victim is transferred, complains Ms. Rubin. The bullies “get to stay and continue terrorizing weaker kids.”

. . . the girl who got jumped has been in our school since kindergarten and has never been a problem. The three bullies have all transferred to our school in the past couple years, and have all been suspended multiple times for bullying and fighting.

New York City is into small schools: Why not create specialty schools where bullies can pick on each other?