February 11, 2016

DPI sees anti-bullying success

Anti-bullying policies have been successful in some Wisconsin schools. Nineteen districts in the state are participating in the Safe and Supportive Schools program. Lori Stern with the Department of Public Instruction said the goal is to identify students at risk for bullying behaviors, and work with them. “Based on making some policy changes, and also some culture and climate changes in their buildings, some of the schools in our program have already cut their out-of school suspensions by fifty percent,” said Stern.

The main strategy of the program is to keep bullying students in school, rather than expelling or suspending them. “The biggest area that our school districts have started focusing on is the policy,” said Stern. “Policies around bullying prevention, offering alternatives to suspension, and working with those students on the issues that they may be bringing to the school.”

DPI’s Brenda Jennings said sexual orientation is often a basis for bullying. “We’re able to track those students who could be potentially high risk for bullying, and who’ve identified being bullied before,” she said. “A lot of times, the students that get identified are LGBT students.”

Wisconsin is one of eleven states awarded a four-year federal grant on Safe and Supportive Schools. The goal is to improve conditions for learning in the areas of school safety, school environment, and school engagement, and also increase capacity for making data driven decisions.

John Colbert, WIBA

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