Board member supports hiring school resource officer

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Is enough being done to stop bullying in schools? Mari Lu Martens, Sibley East Elementary Principal, said that the district is working on training all of the teachers in responsive classroom. Responsive classrooms help all students be part of the community and want to get along. Martens reports bullying incidents in the elementary have been reduced by 37% in two years.

School board member Jodi Hanson said that she feels Sibley East should consider hiring a school resource officer (police officer). “I want to be pro-active. This has to be taken seriously.”

Hanson said she has had at six telephone calls since last spring dealing with bullying at school. “I’m talking about kids who are smart enough to bully behind the teacher’s back,” she said.

Senior High Principal Jim Swanson said that the Senior high students are “excellent,” because, if they hear things, they will report it. “I feel there is a good climate here at Sibley East. A new student here said she felt safe because she felt she could talk to anyone.” Swanson said he also asked some students about having a police liaison officer and the students asked “Why?”

“We’re not everywhere at all times, but we keep the communication open and feel it’s a safe place,” Swanson concluded.

“Bringing an officer into a school isn’t a cure-all,” School board chairman Mark Brandt said. “Then we will have to look where we can cut teachers. Our administration and teachers seem to be on top of it if they know about it [bullying incidents].”

Martens added that every student absence is followed up on.

School board members were encouraged by administration to refer concerns about bullying to the building principals.

The school board approved posting a proclamation about bullying, signed by Governor Tim Pawlenty, near the school offices.

In other business, the board of education:

• Scheduled the school board organizational meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4 at 7 p.m. and set the regular board meeting for Monday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. The regular board meeting could not be held on the third Monday in January because of the Martin Luther King Junior holiday.

• Was reminded about the Truth and Taxation hearing Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. and the regular school board meeting on Monday, Dec. 18 at 7 p.m.

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