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Parent: DCSS should do more to stop bullying

Following the suicide of a 9-year-old elementary student, a parent of two other students in the Demopolis School System challenged officials to do more to eliminate bullying from local schools during a meeting of the school board Monday.

Nikki Carter told members of the board that she met with school officials about one of her children being bullied at school, including filing a complaint when the bullying became physical.

“As a parent of a child that has been consistently bullied, I’ve gone back and forth with the system. In March 2018, I literally had to take him from the school to the hospital and to the police department to file a report,” Carter said.

Carter said another bullying incident targeting her son occurred within the past week, and she was referred to the system’s Code of Conduct.

“The Code of Conduct, the only thing it really says is a definition of bullying. That is all it has on bullying,” she said. “As a parent, I feel like the school board, we send our children to school for seven hours a day five days a week. Not only is the school responsible for academics, but also the safety and welfare of our children while they are there.

“There needs to be better policies (regarding bullying) and that goes through [the board]. A procedure can be handled at the schools, but we need policies, not just procedures,” she said.

Carter added that she feels the bullying issue is one that everyone should get involved in, including parents and the community as a whole.

“I think everyone needs to come together on this … it is not just a school board issue. It is a parental and community issue as well. We are all responsible and all have a part to play in this issue of bullying,” she said.

Carter also spoke about other school systems that have implemented anti-bullying campaigns such as HALT! in Tuscaloosa County and others in Mobile and Montgomery.

“There are numerous available resources through Stop Bullying Now and the state. There is training for parents, teachers and students … there’s no reason why Demopolis can’t have a better implemented plan when it comes to bullying,” she said.

“I come to you as a parent and say that it is time for something to get done. You can’t do it all on your own, it will take parents and the community, but you have to do something. This has to stop,” Carter said.

School Attorney Alex Braswell said there is more on bullying within the system’s policies. That information can be found on the system’s website, dcsedu.com, under the “District Policies” tab in section 5.0 labeled “Students.” The portion dealing with bullying is labeled Student Harassment Prevention (Section 5.28).

BOE member Carolyn Moore asked if Carter would be willing to work with school officials in helping develop an anti-bullying plan for the system, to which Carter agreed.

During the business portion of the meeting, the board approved:

• upcoming events that will use facilities at U.S. Jones and Demopolis High School.

• disposition of inventory.

• overnight and out-of-state field trips.

• copier lease agreement for central office.

• and the 2019 baseball and softball schedules.

The last day of school leading into the winter break will be Wednesday, Dec. 19, at noon. The school system will be closed through Jan. 4 with students returning to classes on Jan. 7.

To see the school system’s harassment policy, clear here:

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, December 19 issue of the Demopolis Times.)