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Bullying Task Force meets

By Staff | Dec 24, 2017

Anti-bullying posters such as this one adorn the halls at BEA.

The newly formed Blue Earth Area School District Bullying Task Force met for the first time on Monday, Dec. 18.

The task force was formed by the Blue Earth Area School Board and administration in response to a rising number of parents’ concerns about bullying going on in the BEA Schools.

BEA superintendent Evan Gough said the he and the board decided to form the task force to address the concerns of parents and citizens, and to do it as quickly as possible. Besides the task force, there is also a student leadership team being formed.

Craig Wethington, Minnesota Department of Education Director of School Safety Technical Assistance Center, and Heather Hirsch, Minnesota Department of Education School Climate Specialist, facilitated the meeting.

Wethington said the concerns about bullying and harassment are not unique to the BEA District.

Over the next month, the School District will be working on a number of initiatives to improve school climate, Superintendent Gough said after the meeting. The elementary and middle schools will be reviewing the positive behavior interventions and supports (PBIS) program. This will include reviewing expectations with students along with making adjustments as needed, he added.

“Our schools will also be undergoing a process to identify and remedy ‘hot spots’ in our buildings where students feel the least safe,” Gough says. “Our district will also be reviewing procedures for reporting bullying with students, parents, and staff. The district will also implement youth leadership teams to specifically work on improving school climate in each of our school buildings.”

Wethington and Hirsch shared with the task force that this is ultimately a long-term process. The task force will be meeting approximately every six weeks for the next year. The next task force meeting will be held early in February.

Future work for the task force will include looking at recent student survey data on school climate in the district and identifying areas from the survey on which to focus improvement efforts.

“Updates on work of the district and task force will occur on a regular basis as we move forward,” Gough added.

The task force is made up of school staff, administration, community members and parents.

Members in attendance at the task force meeting included the following: Becky Anderson, Jake Anderson, Alicia Barke, Daren Barnett, Kelly Bleess, DJ Bullerman, Barbara Carlson, Jeremy Coxworth, Karen Davids, Donna Drescher, Dave Dressler, Sarah Fering, Evan Gough, Dar Holmseth, Dale Hurley, Russ Jacobsen, Brent Legred, Melissa McGuire, Brenda Moore, Shellie Poetter, Sheila Ripley, Heidi Schiltz, Rich Schneider, and Kim Slette.

Four high school students were also in attendance.

No exact date has been set for the next meeting.