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Kaneland explores bullying action plan

SUGAR GROVE – An update on a bullying task force’s action plan Wednesday elicited mixed emotions among some Kaneland School District 302 board members.

Sarah Mumm and Erika Schlicter gave the board an update on the progress of the action plan, which included the findings of an audit that helped the task force identify the district’s biggest areas of need.

Schlicter said the task force has looked at a variety of anti-bullying programs in the past year, including nationally-recognized programs such as Rachel’s Challenge, Chick Chat and the 40 Assets program.

Mumm and Schlicter submitted a timeline that goes through April, which includes goals such as teaching computer ethics and boosting district employee morale and professionalism. Mumm explained that the plan leaves room to create school-specific goals based on varying needs at different grade levels.

“We found that there were many programs that served communities, and we wanted to make sure we identified as many as we could – what actually fits with what we need,” Schlicter said.

Some school board members expressed disappointment that no students had input on the task force, and that too few parents were involved. School board member Teresa Witt suggested getting student leadership organizations such as the gay-straight alliance and peer leaders involved, as well as some of the students who have been victimized by bullies.

“I’m excited to see how everything works,” she said. “What’s missing is it seems there should be a student component on the task force to help with student buy-in.”

Board member Tony Valente said he wanted more concrete data to review before implementing the action plan.

“I’m disappointed in this action plan,” he said. “You’ve got one parent and no students. This does not serve our community. This does not serve our students.”

Newly elected school board member Pedro Rivas, who was seated on the board Wednesday along with Veronica Bruhl, also said he wanted to see more data and student representation on the task force. He suggested looking at areas where no data may be available but still is relevant.

Two members of the task force attended the meeting and shared some of the board members’ concerns about the action plan.

Leigh Ann Reusche of Elburn, the only nonschool employee parent on the task force, said she was disappointed that a citizen advisory committee didn’t have a chance to review the task force’s work.

“I was glad to be a part of that and I was a pretty strong voice, but there are many others out there,” she said. “I would like to have seen more of that. I personally feel it’s missing.”

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