Caitlin Taggart, the school district’s anti-bullying coordinator was present at the Dec. 13 Board of Education meeting to provide her bi-annual report on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) cases.
According to Taggart, Scotch Plains and Fanwood schools have seen a drop in both reported and confirmed cases of Harassment Intimidation and Bullying for January to June in comparison to the September to December report.
Taggart said the HIB teams worked a lot on explaining to students and parents the differences between conflict and bullying throughout last spring. In her opinion, she stated this might be the reason for the drop in cases reported.
During the period of January 2012 to June 2012, 97 cases were reported and investigated, of those 97 cases 37 of them were confirmed as cases of Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying.
The state requires Taggart to report those in protective categories, such as color, general, sexual orientation and disability. Of the protective categories the following were confirmed:
- Color: 2
- Gender: 1
- Sexual Orientation: 1
- and Disability: 1
Thomas Beese also provided the report on Violence and Vandalism at the Dec. 15 meeting. The following number of cases were confirmed between January and June of 2012:
- Violence: 17
- Vandalism: 9
- Weapons: 2
- and Substances: 6
According to Beese, in relation to student enrollment in the Scotch Plains-Fanwood district, the amount of cases are “well within the norm”.
Taggart also highlighted some of the many programs and training the HIB team coordinated last spring and this fall, as well as upcoming programs on their agenda.
One program that the board was particularly happy about was the introduction assembly at each school.
“I think that it was a fantastic idea,” Board President Trip Whitehouse said. “PTA’s are such a vital link.”
Members of the PTA felt students and parents were not aware of the HIB specialists at each specific school and suggested Taggart hold an assembly to introduce them.
“Pooling resources is a very good thing,” board member Jeanne Cleary said.
Taggart has also worked on training staff about cyber bullying and held assemblies for the middle schools and the high school on the issue.
Additionally, students in all levels have anti-bullying lessons in their curriculums and age appropriate literature is provided to all students.
Outside presenters are also brought in for each level of the schools to provide lessons and information on bullying prevention.
Taggart pointed out that these are just examples of the many ways the schools work to inform students, parents and staff on anti-bullying.
"The work that is happening is having a really positive impact on our students and that's the most important thing," Superintendent Dr. Margaret Hayes said.
Prior to the Dec. 13 Board of Education Meeting, the board members took part in a Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying training, which is part of state standards.