Duly Noted ...

Joint initiative launched to help school districts implement anti-bullying efforts

The “Matt’s Safe Schools Law” passed in late 2011, becoming Section 380.1310b of Act 451, the Revised School Code. The section covers “policy prohibiting bullying; adoption and implementation by board of school district or intermediate school district or board of directors of public school academy; public hearing; submission of policy to department; report; contents of policy; reporting act of bullying; definitions.”

Following the law’s passage, officials from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) came together to develop a joint initiative designed to ensure school districts have the support they need to implement effective anti-bullying programs. The initiative is aimed at reducing destructive peer interactions, thus improving behavior and attitudes in schools and communities.

In December, Michigan’s public school districts were invited to apply for consultative support in developing and implementing anti-bullying programming. Nine districts expressed interest in being part of the pilot program. Of the applicants, three districts were selected to participate: Detroit Public Schools in Wayne County, Vandercook Lake in Jackson County, and Allendale Public Schools in Ottawa County.

The participating school districts came together last week for an orientation session. They will receive a variety of supports, including help with interpreting and using data, needs assessment and selecting interventions. The consultants will also help the participants to engage local partners such as community mental health, local public health, social service, government, law enforcement, and the private sector in a comprehensive plan to reduce bullying behaviors.

“The orientation meeting was a great opportunity to hear from both the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and the Michigan Department of Education about their hopes for this initiative. It was also helpful to hear about what the other two districts are doing in bullying prevention. We hope that the resources and best practices garnered through this initiative can help our parents and children in schools across the state,” said Superintendent Dan Jonker, Allendale Public Schools.

To learn more about the Department of Civil Rights, visit www.michigan.gov/mdcr, and to learn more about the Department of Education, visit www.michigan.gov/mde.