As budgets grow tighter…how many school Superintendents would approve the following expense requests?
Expense Request A:
I am submitting a request to spend thousands of dollars to print up thousands of pages of information that no one will read…
Expense Request B:
I am submitting a request to spend thousands of dollars for software, hardware and personnel to support the software and hardware so we can upload documents on our intranet that no one will read…
Bottom lines are getting crunched because schools are still spending thousands and thousands of dollars on printing, distributing and updating Student Handbooks, Teacher Handbooks, Employee Handbooks, Department Binders, Code of Conduct Manuals, Emergency Plan Binders, Operations Manuals, Safety Manuals, Regulatory Manuals and others. And after spending thousands of precious dollars, schools have no idea if anyone is reading them and even if individuals do read them, schools have no way of knowing or proving it.
Bottom lines are getting zapped even more thanks to software, hardware and personnel to create “digital handbooks” and “intranets”. Once again schools are spending thousands of dollars and schools have no idea if anyone is reading the documents and even if individuals do read them, schools have no way of knowing or proving it.
And bottom lines continue to get robbed because schools will spend thousands of dollars on labor-intensive efforts to collect paper-based documents that have been signed by students, parents, teachers, staff, bus drivers and others. Then schools will spend even more money on labor-intensive efforts to file the signed paper documents and ongoing efforts keeping track of who signed (or did not sign) with spreadsheets and home-grown databases.
Status quo training costs are also zapping bottom lines. If a school adds up all of the labor-intensive efforts, training documents, training facilities, trainer expenses, overtime, travel time, re-training sessions, spreadsheets and paper-based documentation of attendance and other costs, the numbers can be shocking. Unfortunately we human beings are not very good at remembering a lot of information delivered via a “fire hose” once or twice a year, which leads to mistakes, re-dos, fines, lawsuits and numerous other bottom line killers.
If you would like to see how your school can replace 20th century approaches that are killing your tight budget, click here to see how TIPS is equipping schools with 21st century tools to reduce and eliminate these costs.
A special thanks to Sarah Fudin for the “School Bullying Outbreak” infographic below raising awareness and providing facts about bullying methods, bullying consequences and preventative measures. Once you have reviewed this educational graphic, please scroll down to see our “Next Steps” for bullying prevention.
Via MAT@USC: Masters in Teaching
Like Sarah points out in her blog, we all believe schools should be a safe place for students where they can learn without fear or apprehension. Yet the “School Bullying Outbreak” infographic reveals bullying problems and alarming personal consequences are creating lots of fear and challenges for students, schools, parents and communities too.
And bullying and cyberbullying challenges are not just causing problems in classrooms in the U.S.A.; challenges and dangerous trends exist in schools all around the globe….Why?
Safe learning environments should be created in schools and classrooms, yet dangerous and alarming trends continue to cause major problems in schools and classrooms? Why?
Tragic incidents, suicides, lawsuits, federal investigations and settlements continue to reveal how schools are struggling to “build and maintain” a safe learning environment in the 21st century…Why?
The simple answer is because schools, students, parents and community resources are “not EQUIPPED to build and maintain” a safe learning environment in 21st century.
For example, the “School Bullying Outbreak” infographic lists prevention methods like anti-bullying programs, intervening in aggressive interaction between students, enforcing rules and behavior management in the detection and diffusion of bullying, implementing a school-wide anti-bullying policy and rallying parents and staff together to be vigilant.
These are all good ideas that sound good too, but…
Schools, staff, students, parents, safety teams, bus drivers, counselors, law enforcement and other community resources are NOT EQUIPPED to:
Schools, staff, students, parents, safety teams, bus drivers, counselors, law enforcement and other community resources are NOT EQUIPPED with 21st century tools to ensure situational awareness and accountability with audit-ready, legal-ready and real-time documentation at the individual-level.
Lessons learned have exposed 20th century tools – binders, intranets, e-mails, annual training, memos, assemblies, policies, plans, programs, etc. – as “blueprints” and not tools. Individuals need to be “EQUIPPED” with tools to build, monitor, intervene, enforce, detect, implement, rally, connect-the-dots and prevent preventable incidents such as bullying, cyberbullying, dropouts, depression, suicides, violence, substance abuse, criminal records and other preventable consequences.
To learn more about EQUIPPING your school, click here.
Is your school prepared to respond accordingly to reports of bullying and harassment? Are you prepared to investigate, stop, prevent, eliminate hostile environments, take appropriate actions and document your actions? Are your school leaders aware of the different types of bullying that may be creating hostile learning environments in your school?
Studies show for students to achieve academically, they must feel secure and comfortable in their learning environment. A recent study from the University of Virginia revealed the academic performance of students in schools with persistent bullying may suffer because students are less engaged in learning due to fears about bullying or a greater level of school disorder.
According to recent statistics, up to 33 percent of students are being bullied each year and 60 percent of teachers/staff are witnessing bullying two or more times in a month.
Let’s do the math. If you have 3,000 students, then approximately 1,000 or so students could be facing bullying issues … are you taking appropriate actions? If you have 200 teachers and 60 percent of them are witnessing bullying twice a month that could be 240 incidents a month or 2,160 incidents a school year. Are your students and teachers reporting ongoing incidents and do you have the documentation and legal-ready documentation to prove you have taken the appropriate follow-up actions?
On October 6, 2010, the OCR “Dear Colleague” letter sent to all schools clearly defined all schools who know or reasonably should know about student bullying/harassment must:
- Investigate the incident
- Take immediate action to stop the harassment
- Take action to prevent the recurrence of harassment
- Eliminate the hostile environment
- Address its effects
- Take appropriate actions to revise policies and re-train students, faculty, staff and parents
With the new school year underway, the Department of Justice and Department of Education have made it clear that the OCR requirements will be enforced. Consider that a seven-month investigation at Tehachapi Unified School District is being called a landmark case with serious and expensive consequences for school boards and administrators. On July 1, 2011, a “resolution agreement” concluded that TUSD “did not adequately investigate or otherwise respond” to claims of bullying/harassment which led to the suicide of a 13-year old student.
On July 5, 2011 the student’s mother filed a lawsuit naming the school district, the superintendent, the principal, the vice principal and four teachers, seeking compensation for wrongful death damages, medical expenses and punitive damages. Several lawsuits have been filed at a Minnesota school district after seven students committed suicide in one year and a federal investigation is pending.
School leaders across the nation have been put on notice. And because most schools are already dealing with fiscal challenges, schools cannot afford suicides, undocumented incidents, federal investigations, and lawsuits. Therefore, prevention must become a top priority and prevention is more critical now than ever before.
How is your school encouraging students and parents to proactively report bullying/harassment and ensuring that all actions taken are documented with legal due diligence to meet ongoing OCR requirements? Are your school and community leaders preventing the preventable?
Based on studies, incidents and lawsuits, Awareity, Inc. has developed an innovative prevention platform that is helping school leaders take appropriate actions and document all actions taken for compliance and legal due diligence. TIPS (Threat Assessment, Incident Management and Prevention Services) provides schools with the tools to empower students, parents, staff, faculty, community members, etc. to report suspicious incidents, warning signs, red flags, etc. TIPS also empowers safety team members to easily and securely access incident reports, share documents, set reminders and document they have taken the required and appropriate actions and responses to meet OCR guidelines.
According to bullying and suicide prevention expert, Dr. Scott Poland, “TIPS is truly the most comprehensive incident management system available for K12 schools to not only receive anonymous reports from their students and parents, but ensure all appropriate personnel are notified to connect the dots and determine the most effective response. TIPS is helping school districts proactively prevent the preventable – suicides, bullying, violence, truancy, depression and more.”
Cross-posted from the Public School Risk Insistute – Prevention Link
In case you missed it, federal authorities are investigating “incidents involving harassment and bullying” in Minnesota’s largest school district.
The civil rights investigation is underway in Anoka-Hennepin, a suburban Minneapolis school district, and based on the seven-month “landmark federal investigation” that recently ended involving Tehachapi Unified School District in California, the Office of Civil Rights is serious about protecting the rights and safety of students.
School leaders at every school in the U.S. should be taking a serious look at their ability to prevent the preventable involving harassment, bullying, cyber bullying and other alarming trends in schools. School leaders should review their ability to prove they are following guidance outlined in the October 26, 2010 Office of Civil Rights Dear Colleague Letter (DCL), because recent resolution agreements make it clear the OCR is enforcing the DCL that was sent to K-12 schools and Higher Education institutions too. (A federal investigation was just completed at Notre Dame too)
One suicide is one too many! The federal investigations at Tehachapi and Notre Dame involved student suicides and at Anoka-Hennepin, there have been a string of 7 suicides in less than 2 years.
Now is the time to lead by example, not with words or new policies.
Now is the time to replace outdated status quo methodologies with 21st century platforms that empower schools (leaders, faculty, staff, students, parents, community members, etc.) to prevent the preventable.
Now is the time to start doing more than the minimum necessary.
Now is the time to start listening, investigating, intervening, preventing and making a difference.
To request Awareity’s 3 page Executive Briefing on the recent Landmark Investigation to share with your schools leaders and administrators, please visit: http://www.awareity.com/public/briefingrequest.asp
The Department of Education and Office of Civil Rights sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter in October 2010 outlining schools’ responsibilities for being aware of, responding to and preventing future incidents of bullying, discrimination and harassment. In response to the National School Board Association’s letter questioning a school’s responsibilities, the Department of Education response clearly states it did not overreach in its original guidance to school officials— it only reiterated existing laws and policies and gave examples of how school districts can help combat bullying and harassment.
Lessons Learned: Schools have been put on notice and must develop comprehensive programs to respond to incidents of bullying and they must take actions to prevent future bullying incidents. Schools who fail to take appropriate actions risk losing educational funding and expensive lawsuits at a time when a funding cliff is looming large. Lessons learned also demonstrate that status quo approaches are not effective in preventing bullying so it will be critical for school boards and school leaders to implement more effective prevention and intervention programs immediately and document all incidents of bullying and harassment on an ongoing basis.
The Brazilian whose shooting spree left 12 school children dead was a loner who spent his days surfing the Web, and had been victim of schoolyard bullying and taunts. His classmates and former teachers said he was routinely bullied at school, rejected and taunted by girls in class, and forced to endure “constant humiliation”.
Lessons Learned: There are several lessons learned from this tragedy. Number One: Bullying can have a devastating effect on a child and can lead to severe violence. Number Two: Multiple red flags were given prior to this attack: recent clothing changes, change in mental state, researching weapons online, withdrawing from society, removal from family, losing job, etc. Number Three: It is critical that people are aware of tools to anonymously and non-anonymously report suspicious incidents or aggressive behaviors.
The parents of a bullied student who committed suicide in 2009 have filed a lawsuit against the Hillsborough School Board claiming school officials failed to take proper steps after learning their daughter showed signs of being suicidal.
Lessons Learned: If a student signs “a formal contract in which she expressly agreed not to commit suicide” at school with a school social worker…does the school have the responsibility to tell the student’s parents about the signed contract?
School boards and school leaders need to make sure their policies and procedures define situational awareness – what steps should be taken in different situations – so counselors, social workers, principals, resource officers, nurses, etc. are not putting students, families, communities and schools at risk.
This tragedy, this lawsuit and many other situations offer valuable lessons learned for school boards and school leaders. However, school boards and school leaders must be proactive to ensure they adjust their policies and procedures, make sure the right people have the updated policies and procedures, understand the policies and procedures, acknowledge the policies and procedures and make sure all related steps in this ongoing process are documented to prevent bullying, future tragedies and lawsuits.
I blogged a few weeks ago about the parent suing the Ottawa Catholic School Bard for $325,000, alleging the school failed to protect her child from repeated acts of bullying. Two more lawsuits have recently made the headlines and school leaders are probably wondering, “Will we be next?”
In Australia, a teenage girl was awarded $290,000 in compensation by the Education Department after years of harassment and bullying at school left her a physical and emotional wreck. The girl’s parents had pleaded with the school principal to protect their daughter, and held regular discussions with teachers and the school chaplain. But the school failed to respond to the complaints and did not have established procedures to deal with bullying. The parents claim the girl’s injuries included psychological disturbance, panic disorder, insomnia, an eating disorder, stress-related psoriasis and suicidal thoughts.
In a landmark U.S. decision, a Michigan school district has been ordered to pay $800,000 to a student who claimed the school did not do enough to protect him from years of bullying.
This case makes it clear that just having an anti-bullying policy will not be enough to protect schools from future lawsuits. School officials must take a more proactive and preventative approach to ensure bullying and harassment incidents are identified, addressed and prevented ongoing.
It is critical for schools to provide all faculty, staff and students with training to identify red flags and provide tools to confidentially report suspicious behaviors (threats, bullying, discrimination, harassment, etc.) and tools for threat assessment teams to manage incident reports and red flags.
Lessons learned clearly show schools will see expensive lawsuits, embarrassing headlines and damaged reputations if they fail to connect-the-dots and manage red flags.