Concerns of Bullying in our Schools

South San Francisco, CA    October 8, 2014bully-free-zone-sign-k-4060
 

Statistics show over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year with 1 out of 10 students dropping out of school because of repeated bullying.  Further 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying and will intervene only 4% of the time.  Why?

“Teachers often get frustrated because they truly do care about their students and want to help stop bullying in their classrooms, but they don’t know what to do,” Deborah Temkin, the U.S.  Department of Education bullying prevention coordinator said in a news release. And often the taunting and bullying can be seen as something kids have done since the days of Cain and Able and there is the hope they will out grow this behavior in time.

But time is not something a bullied kid might have on their side as continued degrading tears at the very fabric of confidence which is what our kids need to develop for success in life. When is the right time to intervene and what is the best approach?  The US Department of Education continues to update information on navigating what appears to be a crisis across the country. Our own El Camino High School PTSA offered an Anti Bullying Presentation to our students yesterday with another presentation to parents last evening which highlights our community awareness of this issue.

But  we have to ask, why do kids pick on other kids? What is behind the bully’s mindset? PBS Kids looks at some of the reasons a student might find themselves a target.

  • He’s a different size — smaller or bigger — than most of other kids their age.
  • She falls into some type of “minority”: African-American kids at a mostly white school, girls in a shop class that’s crowded with boys, etc.
  • There’s something that makes him stand out, like a disability that makes him walk or talk differently, or even just his name.
  • She gets anxious or upset very easily.
  • He doesn’t have any or many friends and is usually alone.
  • She doesn’t have a lot of confidence and doesn’t seem like she’ll stand up for herself.
  • Some kids get bullied as a result of a single thing that happened, like an embarrassing moment that took place in front of other people.
  • Usually, once someone is singled out by a bully, other people will know that person is a target and start bullying her or him, too.

Because bullying does not stop once we become adults it is important that we educate our children on how to handle these situations, to give them the needed tools to take with them through out life. Anyone on the internet reading comments on news articles and blogs can see the anti-social degrading bullying being done by adults that sit anonymously behind a computer screen.  Those cruel comments can still sting, no matter the age.

And while it is important to educate our kids to be bully proof, we also need to hold accountable those kids who do the bullying. And that is up to the adults, the parents, teachers and administrators.  We have to let our students know we have a zero-tolerance for this type of behavior and their actions will be met with discipline.

Our School Board Trustee Maurice Goodman expressed his deep upset over an incident in one of our schools where bullying of one student came in the form of racism. The incident occurred last year and according to Trustee Goodman it has continued into this year, and by other students.  This situation was to be investigated by our District Administrator Alejandro Hogan this past week, Goodman reported. Goodman’s frustration came through clear in his Facebook post which he made public;

‘I have officially lost confidence and respect for South San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Alejandro Hogan for not protecting our children and providing them a safe learning environment from harassment. This video explains some of the pain and anger associated with a noose and the word nigger and neither should be common place in our schools. His ignorance, insensitivity and lack of leadership makes one wonder what he thinks the “South” in South San Francisco stands for. Get a clue or get gone!’

Goodman’s concern is not only for the bullying but for the racism behind the words and actions he has heard were displayed by one or more of our students to another and on more than one occasion. In addition Goodman told us he has heard from others that one of our coaches used the ‘N’ word in relationship to another team. These are serious allegations and need to be investigated and resolved immediately.

School Board Trustee Candidate Pat Murray responded to Goodman’s post;

‘Students need to feel safe or they can’t learn. It is unacceptable for ANY child in our schools to be bullied especially where there is bigotry involved. We need age appropriate, anti-bullying programs from k-12 to teach our students tolerance and conflict resolution. It makes me sad that one of our kids has suffered in this way.’

We also need to know our District reflects our community values and supports our zero-tolerance for bullying and racism and will be swift to initiate a thorough investigation of these and any accusations.  Due to the confidentiality of the minors involved we do not have all the facts available to share.  Superintendent Hogan did respond by phone to advise a third party investigation would be take place once a formal complaint was complete. In a follow up email sent this statement addressing these concerns publicly.

‘We are in the process of receiving an official complaint regarding allegations of certain incidents that occurred last year surrounding a student in one of our high schools.  The subject of this complaint can be very emotional.  However, as superintendent of the district I must remain calm and level-headed before jumping to conclusions for the benefit of all students and staff in the district.  

I assure the students, the parents and the employees of the district that we have a zero tolerance policy for incidents of bulling or racism in our schools .  Any allegations will be thoroughly investigated by a professional third-party investigator.  This independent investigator will report his/her findings and I will address this situation appropriately.  My duty as the highest ranking administrator in the district is to act judiciously.  My record in the district is exemplary when dealing with inappropriate behavior against students.  My role is to protect and advocate for students at all times.  I will continue to do that with all the information that I need at hand.  

Please understand that I do not protect or cover injustices.  I know firsthand about discrimination and profiling because it has happened to me and to members of my family.  I hope this clarifies my position and the district’s position.

 Unfortunately, at this time I cannot comment about the details of the allegations in order not to jeopardize a fair investigation.’

 -Alejandro Hogan, Superintendent

Everything South City will be following the progress of this investigation closely and we will provide updates as they become available.

 

9 comments for “Concerns of Bullying in our Schools

  1. Maurice Goodman
    October 8, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Just, a quick response to Mr. Hogan…

    Yes, the District is in the process of receiving an official complaints that occurred last year and continued through this year… as recent as three weeks ago. The reason there is an official complaint being filed is because you asked the parents to “trust you” and give “you” a few days to investigate the matter and the leadership at the High School that allowed this to continue for over a year now. Instead of you investigating yourself you entrusted the mater to the very same leader that the parents felt allowed the “N” word to continue to be used without consequence. According to the parents, they were directly told that the word is too general and can’t be controlled.

    Upon your “investigation” you never once assured the parents of a zero tolerance policy for incidents of bulling or racism in our schools (I was there) as that is all they want to hear from you and you were too busy blaming their son for being the reason that he was called a n*****. You mentioned canceling the football season and not once did the parents want that to happen. They just wanted to be heard and to be assured that despite the leadership or lack there of at the High school that they could send their child to school free from harassment and for their daughter to not feel the need to follow her older brother around to make sure he didn’t retaliate to the harassment and get kicked out of school.

    Yes, the subject of this complaint can be very emotional… and so can the fact that a noose was hung and a child was told to wear it as a necklace while being called a n*****, all while there were witnesses, a photo and a police response and yet “your” investigating turned up nothing.

    As superintendent of the district, I must admit, you did remain calm and level-headed as you let the parent know nothing would be done as a result of “your” investigation and to go ahead and file his formal complaint.

    The only reason you are now speaking of a professional third-party investigator is because you did not have the resolve to act on behalf of a student being harassed and parents that were being victimized by your administration throughout this process.

    Lastly, thanks for trying to make this about you and distracting from the problem; but your record, firsthand experience about discrimination, profiling and how it has happened to your family is not an issue of concern. However, the way you respond to our families and our students is and for the parents to have to file a formal complaint and for a media to question you to have this matter addressed should give you pause and at the very least you should put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you would want someone to respond to you or your wife regarding your children.

  2. Truly Unbiased
    October 9, 2014 at 8:26 am

    I am very familiar with the South San Francisco Schools and the problems that both students and staff face on a daily basis. My question is what is the underlying reason and motivation for Mr. Goodman’s current concern in bringing up an incident that occurred over a year ago. The incident Mr. Goodman refers to was investigated by school administrators, the police and the district attorney’s office and found not to not be a hate crime. Mr. Goodman states the same issues continue and acknowledges it it is currently being investigated again. I am certain that Mr. Hogan recognizes the significance of racism based on his own ethnicity and knowing firsthand what it is like being brown in a white world. This was one of the many reasons I personally believed he wan excellent choice to take the helm of the SSFUSD that is deeply multicultural. Okay them why would Mr. Goodman make the comments that he did…. Folks the general election for school board representatives is only a few weeks away. You have people that are being supported by Mr. Gooman also chiming in about this topic. Is Mr. Hogan the issue or is it perhaps only Mr. Goodman’s own personal bias of Mr. Hogan and what he represents. Mr. Goodman, please us the proper media’s and/or channels for voicing your concerns, especially election time. It will make your claims more credible! Truly Unbiased

    • Maurice Goodman
      October 9, 2014 at 3:13 pm

      I have no problem debating your concerns “Truly Unbiased” but your comments are just that… But to do so with someone that it is not willing to put their name to their comments can very well be Mr. Hogan himself. As it is my job to hold the superintendent accountable for his actions or inactions. If you “read” the comments that I left… this matter came up just two weeks ago when the parents brought this up to the superintendent for the FIRST time. No one in his office or the Board knew any of the information that you spoke of regarding the D.A. , the police or anything about an investigation prior to Mr. Hogan conducting his own investigation and concluding that inaction was his best course of action. When you want to talk my email is on the district website. This is not an election matter, as any candidate or sitting Board member should have ALL of our students best interest in mind no matter the issue. Have a great anonymous day “Truly Unbiased”….

      • October 18, 2014 at 9:00 pm

        Mr. Goodman,
        regardless of what has happened at El Camino high school your comments and actions are uncalled for. You are an elected official first and foremost. If you were on the ballot I would not vote for you. Please stop making comments on social media about our school. You are giving El Camino a bad reputation and the district which you represent as well. This has been very stressful on the parents especially the ones like me that have students just starting their four years there. We need to be able to move forward and your bashing is not helping this situation. Until the investigation is over we are al in the dark and maybe this is better for now. Besides I do not believe you have a child at our school.

        • Maurice Goodman
          October 19, 2014 at 11:05 am

          Mrs. Walsh,

          I welcome your opinion and your freedom of expression. A right we all enjoy, elected or not. You are dead wrong a number of counts. First, as a parent I would hope that you were observant enough to see that it is not my words that give the school a bad name but the actions of those involved. Secondly, for a parent to be more concerned about a reputation of a school rather than the safety of their child is shameful and would be ill advised for any current or future elected official. Lastly, I am a father of a freshman at El Camino, so like you I too have a vested interest in what happens there. I give you my word, if I have your vote or not I will continue to protect every child in our District just as I have for numerous years now. In closing, I will gladly be the sole person standing for something I believe is right and be wrong than to not have the courage to stand at all. As an elected official, one must be willing to speak for the few as well as the masses and provide a voice for the voiceless. I look forward to speaking with you further as we address the many challenges facing our schools and the City we both love very much.

          • October 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

            Mr. Goodman,
            You are missing my point. I am just as concerned as you are for the safety of our children. Had you showed up for coffee with the interim principal you would have hear that they are keeping our children safe. I stand firm on my opinion of how you handled this situation. We are in the dark bout the current issue at the school. We need to be able to move forward with the current administration to get our kids through the school year. I am not hearing your other board members speaking the way you have upsetting the entire school community. I am not sure I with to speak with you regarding this situation until the investigation is finished. I will say that the school board needs to work harder than ever to keep the school district intact as I feel there have been issues for many years with keeping teaches and principals employed In this district.

    • Maurice Goodman
      October 9, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      I have no problem debating your concerns “Truly Unbiased” but your comments are anything but that… to do so with someone that it is not willing to put their name to their comments that can very well be Mr. Hogan himself. It is my duty to hold the superintendent accountable for his actions or inactions. I implore you to do your duty as a voter and hold me or any other elected official accountable for our actions or inaction. If you “read” the comments that I left… this matter came up just two weeks ago when the parents brought this up to the superintendent for the FIRST time. No one in his office or the Board knew any of the information that you spoke of regarding the D.A. , the police or anything about an investigation prior to Mr. Hogan conducting his own investigation and concluding that inaction was his best course of action. This has continued through this year. When you want to talk my email is on the district website and my number is 650-427-9311. This is not an election matter, as any candidate or sitting Board member should have ALL of our students best interest in mind no matter the issue. Have a great anonymous day “Truly Unbiased”….

  3. Editor
    October 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

    UPDATE: Dr. Putney is on administrative leave after the 4-0 vote by our SSFUSD Board in a closed session. Linda McDaniel will take over the responsibilities as she fills in as the Interim Principal. From El Camino High School website http://echs.schoolloop.com/:

    Message from the Principal
    Notes from …

    Ms. Linda McDaniel, Interim Principal

    October 15, 2014

    My first priority as I assume this new role at El Camino High School is to be an effective communicator. It is important to me to provide information to our community in a timely manner and with details. In responding to the many questions from parents about our recent events, I can state the following:

    A formal complaint following the District’s Uniform Complaint Procedure was filed against Dr. Putney last week. This is not a criminal investigation and the complaint does not contain criminal allegations. The South San Francisco Unified School District Board of Trustees took action on Thursday, October 9, 2014, to place Dr. Putney on paid administrative leave. This is a standard practice while an independent third party completes the investigation.

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