Are Region 8 Schools Following Anti-Bullying Policy? - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Little Rock -- Melissa Simas reports

Are Region 8 Schools Following Anti-Bullying Policy?

July 14, 2004 -- Posted 5:30 p.m. CDT

Little Rock, AR -- Arkansas legislators are taking up the issue of public school discipline. Are Region 8 schools passing the test?

On Wednesday morning, members of the House Education Sub-Committee heard testimony from lawmakers and educators about the issue of school discipline, and the status of a new anti-bullying law.

State Representative Don House of Walnut Ridge is a co-sponsor of the Anti-Bullying Policy Act that became law in 2003. The law requires each school district develop a plan to deal with bullying.

"The anti-bullying policy basically is designed to make a safer learning environment for the kids in the state of Arkansas," said House.

But according to what House told other lawmakers, State Department of Education records show 6 school districts in the state have not submitted their anti-bullying policies. The Westside School District in Craighead County is on the list.

"It is reprehensible that anybody would not be in compliance because it is a universal problem," said House.

Department of Education records show Westside received letters from the State in December of 2003 and then later in January of this year requesting a copy of their policy. House says they never responded.

Over at Westside High School, new school Superintendent Dr. James Best wants to make the public aware they do have an anti-bullying policy, and it's posted all over the school.

"We've checked the records and I've talked to the previous superintendent, and that policy was enacted in August of 2003, so it's been enforced ever since," said Best. "I'm not quite sure where the breakdown is communication wise."

"The assumption would be that they would have received it. It's not customary for the Department to send a letter that they had received something," said Best.

This isn't the first time Westside School District has been cornered about its anti-bullying policy. Back in May, K-8 news first told you about a concerned Westside Middle School parent who claimed her son had been bullied and the school did nothing about it.

Westside did issue a statement that day saying their anti-bullying policy is being enforced.

"I'm still coming on board and getting status reports and an update on where we are in the district, and I will do that. I have not done that since I've been here in the last 2 weeks but it will be done," said Best.

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