Safe Schools Committee mulls over bullying policy

Friday, May 5, 2006

It's coming down to crunch time and the Putnam County Safe Schools Committee knows it.

On Thursday, the committee mulled over a possible bullying policy for all five school corporations in Putnam County, a policy it has talked about for several months.

At Thursday's meeting, Committee Chairman and Cloverdale Middle School teacher Dan Bain asked about the status of the bullying policy.

"We're all going to try to get everybody on the same page," Bain said.

South Putnam High School Athletic Director Kieth Puckett has composed a bullying policy by using several different items. The idea is for all corporations in Putnam County to use the same policy.

Puckett said both the South Putnam Community School Corporation and Greencastle Community School Corporation subscribe to NEOLA, a policy service.

According to NEOLA's website, the service provides school districts with a service for developing and updating board bylaws and policies, in addition to various other items.

In September, 2005, the Indiana Department of Education required all school corporations to establish a bullying policy.

Puckett said he combined several items that committee members suggested along with NEOLA suggestions. He said policy still has to be considered by the SPCSC School Board, and added the Safe Schools Committee can only suggest such a policy and the area school boards will have to adopt it.

"The thing I liked about Kieth's (policy) is he blended it (with other policies)," Greencastle Middle School Principal and committee member Shawn Gobert said.

Meanwhile, Bain asked the 10 other committee members at Thursday's meeting what should be done about future grants.

The committee learned in March that a grant it had intended to apply for had been pulled by the federal government.

The local committee had plans to apply for the Safe Schools/Healthy Students Initiative grant, a program that was formed in 1999 under the Clinton administration. The $3 million grant, however, was recently pulled, leaving the committee to wonder what to do about future grants.

Jennifer Meadows, an independent consultant from Montgomery County, had met with with committee members several times in recent months, working up a grant proposal.

But on Thursday, Bain said he wasn't sure if Meadows could continue working with the committee in the fall.

"I'm not totally sure she's going to be with us in the fall," Bain said.

On Thursday, committee members agreed they wanted to continue pursuing grants, but they wanted to put an emphasis on other items.

In addition, Bain expressed disappointment in the process.

"I'm the type of person that wants to get results," he said, suggesting that the committee had been dragging recently.

But committee member and Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Director Patti Harmless disagreed.

"I think this process has worked," Harmless said. "We just need to take the next step."

The committee agreed to keep working with Meadows, and Bain said he would contact her and ask her to attend its June meeting.

In other news, the committee:

-- Learned of several spring drills that have taken place among the four county schools.

Bain explained to the committee Cloverdale had recently conducted a bomb drill, involving several law enforcement agencies.

"We made several mistakes," Bain said, which he added have been corrected.

Bain said the State Police took part in the drill and planted two devices in the high school.

"We found them, luckily," he said.

Gobert also said Greencastle recently conducted a tornado drill where kids were taken off of 18 buses and put in the McAnally Center.

"It's kind of like a bunker," Gobert said. "There's so much concrete in that place."

It was learned that North Putnam also recently conducted a tornado drill for elementary students.

-- Heard an update on the Advanced Safe School Training Sessions, which committee members attended on April 18-19.

"I thought it was average," Bain said.

The board meets regularly on the first Thursday of each month at the Miller Education Center. Its next meeting is slated for 9:30 a.m. June 1.

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