SUGAR GROVE – Kaneland School District 302 outlined its next steps in tackling bullying Monday. The subject was on the agenda at a school board meeting at Harter Middle School.
Members of the Knights Against Bullying group were in attendance, and group member Leigh Ann Reusche thanked administrators and board members for “hearing our message and taking us seriously.”
One board member, Tony Valente, said it was important that the implementation of any program would yield results, and words were not enough.
He said it is good that policies are in place, but it’s not acceptable that there is a perception in the community that the administration has not provided solutions to bullying.
Valente said that was evident when more than 100 people showed up for a forum on bullying at a previous meeting, during which many shared their stories of youths being bullied, with anger that such situations lasted for years in some cases.
Valente said he expects the administration to solve the issue.
“We are suffering from a perception issue, that we are doing nothing,” Valente said. “And I don’t want to be associated with that perception.”
At the meeting, Superintendent Jeff Schuler expressed the district’s desire to “create a partnership” in finding solutions to the bullying issues. Knights Against Bullying provided a list of five points it wanted the administration to address.
Knights Against Bullying wanted administrators to make bullying a priority. Schuler said it has been set as a goal in the superintendent plan of work, and there is a reporting date of April. Also, the group wanted a prevention coordinator assigned. Officials announced Sarah Mumm and Erika Schlichter would coordinate the activity of the work group. Mumm is the director of educational services for kindergarten through fifth grade. Schlichter is the director of education services for sixth through 12th grade.
Valente said it’s important that parents understand there will be follow through, and “kids have to know that they can’t bully other kids and get away with it.”
Board President Cheryl Krauspe said there has been a lot of recent support. The issue has continued to receive attention through the forums and media reports, and she said she was hopeful that will help. Board member Teresa Witt said it’s important to work to identify a bullying situation, and it is important to differentiate between a conflict and an ongoing bullying situation.
“Parents will have an emotional response and say, ‘My child is bullied,’ but sometimes their kid is the perpetrator,” Witt said. “Sometimes, it depends on what side you are on.”
But Witt said there are times where a bullying situation has been clearly established.
Valente said it is the role of the board to make sure the community is being serviced. And he noted that community response indicates that has not happened, and administrators must be held accountable.
“I look at the administration,” Valente said. “Please solve this issue, or we will solve it.”