JERRY CITY — A parent at local schools in Elmwood is upset with anti-bullying efforts as well as the lack of mental health support for his daughter.
Brianne Perez attended the April 11 school board meeting to share her grievances on both topics.
Perez said her daughter’s bullying started in fourth grade “very hot and heavy.” As a result, her daughter, who self-harms, spent 30 days in a living unit.
It was reported to the teacher when it started, she said.
According to the student manual, district policy prohibits harassment, bullying, and bullying. There’s supposed to be a factual investigation, written reports and a compliance officer, and as a parent she was supposed to be contacted, Perez said.
“I was never told,” she said. “Why wasn’t I warned? Why is this not reported? »
There is also supposed to be a semi-annual report on bullying prepared by administrators, sorted by grade level, which is supposed to be posted on the district’s website for parental access.
“I went through the website. I couldn’t find it,” Perez said.
Superintendent Tony Borton said the report is updated annually in December and he will check to see if this has been done.
The list of compliance officers can be found under the District tab on the website, as is the bullying report, which can be found in forms under the same tab.
According to the midterm report for 2021-2022, one incident of bullying was reported in high school, one in elementary and seven in middle school.
Only reported incidents are counted, Borton said after the meeting. He added that college enrollments tend to be higher.
“As soon as we hear that a child is being bullied, our principals take care of it,” he said. “Are we going to stop him? No. No school can stop it.
PBIS programs, which contain prevention and intervention practices, are in place in each building to promote a positive culture, Borton said.
Union contracts also outline procedures for bullying students, but they haven’t been revised since 2013, Perez said.
This is not contract language, Borton later explained. This is Neola’s policy, which is updated only when the law changes.
“If a font is a day old or 15 years old, that doesn’t mean anything. This is the last time the rule changes,” he said.
The anti-harassment policy was revised in 2021 to include gender identification and the need for compliance officers, Perez said. She added that harassment reports are also supposed to appear on the district’s website, but they are nowhere to be found.
Those numbers are combined with the bullying report, Borton said.
This year, when she was in sixth grade, her daughter reported to five administrators that she had been bullied. Not once was there an investigation and she, as a parent, was never informed, Perez said.
Her daughter has never met with a compliance officer about any issues, she added.
“When my administrators hear that a child is being bullied, we respond immediately,” Borton said.
He declined to comment on Perez’s specific allegations.
“It was handled,” Borton said.
“I want to have a school district that I’m proud of and right now I’m not,” Perez said, adding that she pays taxes that help fund the district.
She said her next step is to consult with a lawyer and the media.
“It’s my child’s sanity and well-being. What do you want her to do? Do you want her to hang herself before anything is done? »
Perez also questioned the district’s relationship with the Children’s Resource Center, which worked with his son and daughter.
Her daughter was referred to the CRC when she was in kindergarten due to a past traumatic event, but Perez said she was never told when the relationship with the therapist ended.
She said the district went eight months without a therapist on staff.
When a “therapist” was hired, she had not passed state licensing tests and parents were not notified, Perez said. This person is now fully licensed as a licensed professional clinical counselor and is working with her son on his IEP.
A CRC-certified counselor was brought in but was not a qualified mental health specialist, Perez said.
“My daughter wasn’t seeing the mental health professionals I thought she was,” she said.
Borton said it was a CRC issue and he would not comment on the charge.
He later explained that the CRC is contracted to provide mental health services at school and has little control over who they send.
The school’s safety plan also failed her daughter, who began self-harming, Perez said.
As soon as this was brought to the attention of the administrator, a rigorous school safety plan was put back in place, she added.
Every time a child comes back to Elmwood from CRC, they come back with a school safety plan, Borton said, adding he can’t go into the specifics that Perez talked about.
Federal funds are used to pay for a counselor at no cost to parents, Borton said. The alternative is not to offer the service on site, which will force parents to travel to the Bowling Green CRC.
In addition, at the meeting, the board:
• Heard feedback from exchange students from the Czech Republic, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands about their experience at Elmwood.
• heard a presentation of the elementary PTO; the group could always use more volunteers.
• Approved a trip to Costa Rica in July 2023. The cost per student will be $3,105; the cost per adult will be $3,605. The hope was for 12 students but within 24 hours 31 people had shown interest.
“I love that they get out there and see the world,” said board chair Debbie Reynolds.
• Approved a trip for middle and high school basketball teams to Sherrodsville in June for Eastern Ohio Basketball Camp.
• Decided to start filming its meetings. Borton will attach the video to his Wednesday posts.
“I thought that was a great idea,” Reynolds said, noting that meetings now start at 5:30 p.m.
• Enrolled in the 2023 Ohio School Board Association Workers’ Compensation Program with 41% targeted reimbursement and $920 enrollment fee.
• Acceptance of an $8,520 donation from Royal Summer Baseball to the baseball program for its spring trip.
• Signed a contract with Wood County Hospital Rehabilitation Services for athletic training services for the 2022-23 school year for $22,000.
• Approved the purchase of seven copiers with a five-year service contract from Applied Imaging for $55,623.84.