MENOMONIE — Taking a stance against bullying is a must for the Menomonie school board.
The board discussed its role in combating instances of bullying and harassment in the district at its meeting Monday. The board began the process of creating a value statement to acknowledge its duty to protect students and all members of the district.
“We need to make a statement to the community that we are responsible for what happens at our schools,” board member Dan Paulson said, “and we are going to do everything possible to make sure that this kind of stuff does not happen, is not the norm and we take a strong stand against it and that we will work as hard as we can to prevent it.”
Students of the district attended a board meeting in October to voice their concerns of bullying occurring at the middle and high schools. They cited a lack of consequences for those who bully or harass other students.
The board plans to adopt a value statement regarding bullying and harassment following a vote at its next meeting.
The statement focuses on a promise to the community to support positive school culture and make the district free of bullying, harassment and acts of harm while pledging to ensure the schools are a safe place for learning and personal growth.
The district administration put together a bullying report and action plan after the October meeting. The district is taking inventory of current anti-bullying and anti-harassment efforts being done at the schools. Once the inventory is completed, the administration will put together another action plan to improve these efforts, district administrator Joe Zydowsky said.
One consideration the district could work toward is joining with the Menomonie City Council and Police Department to develop a city ordinance related to bullying.
Other communities have worked with police and city councils to create a bullying citation, Zydowsky said. The citation would be similar to truancy and disorderly conduct citations.
Zydowsky said there is still a lot of work to be done to determine whether creating a citation is right for the community and school district.
“To have something specific to bullying I think would be a good tool in the toolbox,” Zydowsky said. “It might not have to be as significant as an assault charge but also something that has some teeth, so that it’s not just the school, not just the principal or not just the teacher that is really trying to work on this.”
Getting police involved and issuing a fine could be an effective way of discouraging bullying behavior, board member David Styer said.
“If all of a sudden they get a citation — it goes on their record and they have to pay a $500 fine or something — maybe that will change that person’s perception,” Styer said.
The next meeting of the board of education will Jan. 13 at the district’s administrative service center.