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MHS responds to bullying issue

Posted: Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

MENDOTA – Mendota resident Andrew Wagner addressed the May 20 Mendota High School Board of Education meeting on the topic of bullying. The issue was initially broached at the board’s April 29 reorganizational meeting following the death of MHS student Dallas Holland.

Wagner, who is a friend of the family, thanked the board for their time. “I’m here on behalf of the grandmother and grandfather, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, 600 students and pretty much a nervous community,” he explained.

“A 14-, 15-, 16-year-old kid getting shoved into lockers, locked in lockers, shoved into garbage cans, attacked in the locker room to the point where he has to fight his way out of the locker room, shoved up against the wall in the middle of class in front of the teacher,” Wagner began. “That was 35 years ago. That was me. We didn’t call it bullying back then. It was just a guy getting picked on.

“April 24, our lives changed. You can’t imagine the level of anguish that we’ve been through. Every morning at 7:40 the bus goes by. Every afternoon at 3:05 it goes by again. At dinner tonight, we commented how quiet it is. We have a problem. This town has a problem. These classrooms have a problem. We just have a simple question. What’s being done and what’s the problem? We need answers.”

Board member Jim Lauer, who chaired the meeting in the absence of board president Dar Ayers, responded by saying a student group has been established that meets on a regular basis and is becoming more involved with the issue of bullying.

Lauer said there were accusations and generalities stated by a few students and members of the public at the April 29 meeting but no specifics were given. “I found it troubling…I heard comments that this or that wasn’t dealt with but after researching to a greater extent, I think they were dealt with,” Lauer said. “I’m not saying we have a perfect system but I don’t think the statement that ‘nothing’s been done’ is accurate. I think our programs are rather extensive…there are things in place.”

But Wagner felt Lauer’s answer was vague. “I have no idea what you meant by anything you just said,” he told Lauer. “I didn’t get an answer.”

Lauer explained that there is an assembly for students the first day of school that addresses bullying. “If they witness bullying, they are to report it immediately and they know who to report it to,” he said. “The next step, there are personnel that deal with it on a regular basis as it’s reported.”

Superintendent Jeff Prusator added that for the first time last year they showed students a documentary on bullying and Principal Denise Aughenbaugh spoke about how bullying hurts people. “We’re working with our students, they have more awareness that if they witness it, instead of being bystanders and not doing anything, we tell students to do something to stop it,” Prusator explained.

Prusator said the newly formed student group, which is open to all students, has had some very good ideas on how bullying can be reported, and what students, faculty and staff can do together to minimize and stop the bullying.

For the complete article see the 05-22-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 05-22-2013 paper.

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