Anti-bullying policy for JPS needs serious improvement
The MSSC, Unity Mississippi, and many more partner organizations want to call attention to a proposed anti-bullying policy that Jackson Public Schools is seeking public comment. View the policy.
JPS is seeking public comment and have tabled their vote for further research.
While we applaud JPS for recognizing the seriousness of bullying and harassment, we believe that this policy misses the mark in a few important ways:
- It does not enumerate (or spell out) who is protected from bullying. This includes, but is not limited to, bullying based on actual or perceived race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, and economic status.
- The policy does not spell out any procedures for addressing bullying. It, in addition, does not list any specific consequences for bullying apart from referring to the student code of conduct and the MS criminal code. This means that youth, if found guilty, could face jail time and a $500 fine at the extreme end of punishment. The policy does not give youth, teachers, parents and administrators an avenue for effectively dealing with bullying and harassment inside the school system.
- The proposed policy does not take steps to create a safer school, including but not limited to training, education and other techniques that create long-term change in school climate.
Please take a minute and copy and paste (with YOUR name inserted) the following and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dear School Board of Jackson Public Schools,
As a citizen concerned with issues of bullying and harassment in our school district, I applaud your willingness to take steps to address such issues. However, I do not believe that your proposed anti-bullying policy adequately addresses the needs and concerns of students, parents and teachers.
I am asking that you amend the policy in the following ways:
1. Establish that students are protected from bullying based on the following categories, whether actual or perceived: race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, and economic status.
2. Outline a clear procedure and steps that a person can take if they are the victim of, or a witness to, bullying. This procedure should clearly state to whom bullying gets reported, what actions the reporter can expect, and a chain of command for parents, teachers, and students if the bullying isn’t dealt with in an effective manner.
3. Offer adequate annual notification, training and education for teachers, students and parents that discuss bullying and harassment, ways to reduce it, and concrete solutions for solving this very serious issue.
While I am encouraged by the School Board’s consideration of an anti-bullying policy, as currently proposed the policy lacks elements that will make it truly effective.