Bay-Arenac ISD awarded anti-bullying grant


ARENAC COUNTY — The Bay-Arenac Community Foundation donated $2,500 in grant money to the Bay-Arenac Intermediate School District to help schools within the district develop anti-bullying procedures.

While schools in the ISD system already have anti-bullying policies, ISD Superintendent Michael Dewey said the recent anti-bullying bill signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder means they need to take another look.

“We already have procedures in place, but we want to make sure we’re in compliance with everything laid out in the legislation,” Dewey said.

The funds came through a Youth Advisory Committee grant for $2,000, and a $500 grant from the Arenac County Fund.

The bulk of the funds will go towards workshops to be held in March for the teachers, counselors, and administrative staff. These workshops based on the research of psychologist Dan Olweus on bullying, which detail a “whole-school” approach to student behavior, and how staff engagement can help address harmful behavior.

According to ISD Health, Drug, and Safety Coordinator Pamela Sook, who is organizing the workshops, the “whole-school” approach addresses bullying by getting school staff trained and involved in identifying and handling bullying, with varying degrees of consequences.

“It’ll be two days of training, with teams of teachers, administrators, counselors, board members, and parents,” Sook said.

Sook added research suggests the school climate is a key part of getting a handle on bullying activities, and how school staff need to be role models for students to learn proper behavior, individual responsibility, and consequences.

Other topics include techniques that research suggests are ineffective, such as suspensions and expulsions, as well as workshops on the importance of safe environments to education.

Dewey said bullying problems are not just a school issue, but also a social one.

“It doesn’t happen single-handedly in school,” he said. “Look at the hazing incidents at Florida (A&M). These are obviously huge societal issues we need to deal with.”

The ISD schools have until June 2012 to comply fully with the state legislation.



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