These two letters below (one from June 28, 2007 and one from June 5, 2007) record NPFC's recommendations to NUSD about new Board Policy (BP) 5131.2 (Bullying). Our June 5th letter coincided with the BP's second reading. We also provided important reference materials and web links, which you'll find attached to the June 5th letter. As expressed below, while not all our recommendations were adopted, we greatly appreciated the time and consideration given us by the NUSD Board, Superintendent and staff.
June 28, 2007
Dear NUSD Trustees & Dr. Jan Derby:
This is a follow-up to our letter of June 5, 2007 (copy attached for ease of reference).
Please accept our thanks for considering our recommendations about BP 5131.2. As you no doubt recall, we limited our public comments on June 5th due to the lateness of the meeting.
We also appreciate the changes to BP 5131.2 adopted at the June 26th meeting. Based on communications with staff earlier that day, we chose not to provide further public comments prior to your June 26th vote.
Staff also expressed their appreciation for the additional information provided in our June 5 letter. Likewise, we greatly appreciate the time and consideration you and your staff have given us.
In addition to our June 5th recommendations, we also communicated with staff about the following items on June 25th & June 26th:
Again, many thanks for all your efforts on behalf of our children. Please let us know how we can help on this or on any other matter.
Attachment (NPFC letter of June 5, 2007)
Cc: Ms. Kathy Marshall
“Keeping Academic Excellence Paramount for Our Children”
June 5, 2007
Dear NUSD Trustees & Dr. Jan Derby & Staff:
Many thanks for all your efforts on behalf of our children. All of you have a most challenging task.
This letter is simply to consolidate prior e-mails, etc. about recommended changes to BP 5131.2, which will have its second reading this evening. As always, I’m most thankful to be able to work with Dr. Derby and her staff. We’ll be meeting together later today. Any further developments from that meeting will follow in an additional letter before the third reading of BP 5131.2.
One basic choice to address bullying and other conduct is using a more general prohibition instead of a more detailed list. As explained before, Ramona Unified School District (RUSD) is one example of a more general prohibition for any reason. I have talked with RUSD officials to learn more about their approach and they would be happy to talk with NUSD officials if that would be helpful. It seems one advantage of the “for any reason” approach is that it underscores the ultimate goal of any such policy … keeping academics paramount and reducing as much as possible anything that interferes with that goal.
We also understand, however, that much work has gone into BP 5131.2 and that you may not want to revisit adopting an approach more along the lines of RUSD’s. So, here are some suggested changes based on the current language of BP 5131.2.
Item 1 ... recommended additions & deletions to p. 1 of 3 of BP 5131.2:
"The Novato Unified School District will not tolerate bullying or any behavior that infringes on the safety or well-being of students, staff, or any other persons within the District's jurisdiction whether directed at an individual or group. This includes but is not limited to bullying or harassment based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnicity, gender, language, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, political affiliation (& delete "or religious ideology"), physical appearance, academic or athletic ability, or economic status." [Note: more on these recommended changes is attached.]
Item 2 ... re-ordering above list … after “… based on …” as follows:
".... physical appearance (e.g., over-weight), academic or athletic ability (e.g., nerd or jock), physical or mental disability, economic status, race, color, creed, national origin, religion, ethnicity, gender, language, sexual orientation, political affiliation." [Note: more info on this is below and also attached.]
Item 3 ... using student/parent focus groups and student conduct records and data? ... It may help to get and use better (compared to above) real-life examples of at least verbal bullying language … perhaps by asking a “focus group” of elementary, middle & high school students/parents? Also, have NUSD student conduct records and data been helpful in identifying what the new bullying policy is meant to address?
Thanks again for your time and consideration. Please let us know how we can help on this or on any other matter that will help keep academic excellence paramount for our children. For example, as we’ve offered before, we will help defray your costs of notifying parents about matters affecting their children. We can also help research issues and locate other materials that may be helpful, and can help contact parents and other community members on virtually anything of interest to NUSD.
Attachment to NPFC letter of June 5, 2007 to NUSD … Amplifying info on BP 5131.2:
(A) ... "Regarding verbal bullying, bullies were less likely to make derogatory statements about other students' religion or race. There seem to be stronger social norms against making these kinds of statements than against belittling someone about their appearance or behavior," Dr. Nansel ... from Nat'l Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD) ... http://www.nichd.nih.gov/news/releases/bullying.cfm.
This may also help further explain Item 2's suggestion on re-ordering the list on p. 1 of 3 of BP 5131.2.
(B)... Some add'l resources ... as a follow-on to blue card comment & e-mails offering help ...
http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/faq/stopbullying.asp --- which refers to above clemson/olweus site.
.... http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/topics/bullying.asp --- sub-link on bullying from National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center web site.
http://www.ncyi.org/www --- National Center for Youth Issues --- sample site w/ other good resources ... I can provide you w/ several others if you'd like.
(C) ... Add'l comments about the term "ideology," etc. ...
Including the term religion seems more consistent, for example, with Ed Code Section 220 (which refers to Penal Code 422.55).
It seems clear NUSD BP # 5131.2 was meant to cover more specific things than the Ed Code includes. But it also seems wise to at least include the same things found in the Ed Code.
Also, given the basic definition or usage of "ideology," it seems "political affiliation" would more accurately describe the intended policy and expected results. The same would apply to "religious ideology" ... i.e., if, after adding the term religion, there is still a perceived need to distinguish between religion & religious ideology, then add "sincerely held religious beliefs" or just religious beliefs (v. "religious ideology").
(D) … RUSD info -- http://www.ramonausd.net/16361042133410353/blank/browse.asp?A=383&BMDRN=2000&BCOB=0&C=56044 (hard copy provided before):
(E) … No doubt certain aspects of bullying and labeling prevention have also been the source of controversy … here, e.g., are 3 varied perspectives … (hard copies will be provided to NUSD staff today):
City Journal Article, Spring 2003 … http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_queering_the_schools.html)
We too appreciate the difficulties of addressing such issues and, as before, offer to help and work with you and all others in any way possible should they arise via developing and implementing BP 5131.2.