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Incidents of reported bullying remain constant in W.Va. schools

By SARAH PLUMMER

The Register-Herald

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  — West Virginia Department of Education data show the number of bullying incidents reported across the state’s 55 school districts has remained constant over the last three school years.

Shelly Stalnaker, with the WVDE Division of School Effectiveness, Tuesday presented the 2015-2016 Report on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying to the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability.

She said there were 240,387 discipline reports filed digitally through WVEIS (the state Education Information System). Of those, 3,507 (1.5 percent) were flagged as incidents of harassment or bullying.

That’s between 19 and 20 incidents of bullying reported across the state each school day.

Three-fourths of the incidents reported as bullying were perpetrated by male students, and 86 percent of the incidents were a single offense of bullying.

Stalnaker said many students reported for bullying were also reported for other infractions such as disruptive or disrespectful behavior (50 percent), failure to obey rules or authority (27 percent), tardiness/truancy (11 percent) and aggressive conduct (10 percent).

The data also show that 21 percent of reported incidents were at elementary schools, 47 percent at the middle school level and 32 percent at the high school level.

Reasons behind the bullying were reported to be sexual orientation (5.5 percent), disability (6 percent), gender (6 percent), physical appearance (10 percent) and other reasons (60 percent).

Delegate Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, asked why 60 percent of the reports do not specify a reason for the bullying.

“What conclusions can you draw from this? How is this information being utilized?” he asked.

Stalnaker said staff sometimes don’t know the reasons for the bullying.

“There are limits to this study because it is dependent upon the completeness and accuracy of the reports submitted by the schools,” she explained.

The underlying reasons for bullying uncovered during staff investigations can also be up to subjective interpretation, she said.

She noted that both the bully and victim receive interventions.

Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, said he sometimes receives calls from parents claiming their child is being bullied and school districts have not resolved the problem.

Stalnaker noted that under State Board Policy 4373, Expected Behaviors in State and Supportive Schools, all complaints filed by parents must be investigated by the school

And if parents feel their formal complaints are not being resolved, they can file an appeal through Policy 7211, Conflict Resolution. The appeal would be sent to the school, and if denied, would be sent to the county superintendent and then state board of education.

• • •

The Department of Education will present a policy revision to require computer science standards for grades K-12 today at the State Board of Education meeting in Charleston, said Joey Wiseman, with the WVDE Division of Teaching and Learning.

This effort builds on Policy 2510 passed last year, which requires all high schools to offer a computer science course.

Today’s proposed revision will update the 2008 Learning Skills and Technology Tools Policy, which will now be called the West Virginia College and Career Readiness for Technology and Computer Science Policy.

In addition to curriculum standards for each grade level, the policy outlines a stand-alone course for middle school and several high school courses, including a general computer science class and courses that will allow students to take computer science to fulfill one math and one required science credits.

West Virginia currently does not have a computer science certification for teachers, but the department is in the process of developing that criteria and additional professional learning opportunities for teachers, he said.

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