Plainville Community Schools, 47 Robert Holcomb Way, Plainville CT 06062, (860)793-3200

Plainville Community Schools Expands Anti Bullying Efforts

Effective July 1, 2011, major changes to the State's statutes regarding bullying were implemented. Public Act 11-232 revamps bullying statutes in a number of ways, including amendment of the general definition, expansion of the scope of protection for victims of student bullying, establishment of a new school climate paradigm, increase in the number of school based reporters, establishment of strict deadlines for district responses, and the establishment of Safe School Climate Plans for each building. While these changes impact school districts across the state, Plainville Community Schools has taken a number of steps over the years to teach, model and nurture safe schools and a positive and accepting educational environment district-wide.

As part of a new series of Education Update presentations to the Board of Education and community, on November 14th Assistant Superintendent of Schools Dr. Maureen Brummett, and Middle School of Plainville Dean of Students, Tom Laudadio made a presentation on changes to the bullying legislation and the school district's efforts in place to address this issue. The presentation highlighted a number of initiatives currently in place across the school district relative to the issue of bullying.

The Middle School of Plainville launched the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program in 2006. Last May the Middle School was honored as a model demonstration school for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) at the statewide "Connecticut Summit on PBIS" held at the University of Connecticut. The Middle School has since hosted a number of visitors who have come to learn about the successful PBIS program currently in place, including Linda Forman, Legislative Assistant to Congressman Chris Murphy, and Kristina Jones, consultant from the State Education Resource Center. The PBIS program teaches students in grades six, seven and eight school-wide behavior expectations. Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is a research based system of support used in schools in approximately 40 states. PBIS began in the 1980s as a support for special education students by professors at the University of Oregon. A decade later, PBIS was expanded to all students school-wide. New Hampshire, New York, Maryland, Florida and Illinois have incorporated PBIS at the state level implementing the process district-wide. Many schools in Connecticut use PBIS and are members of the UCONN / SERC collaborative. At the Middle School of Plainville, PBIS is a school-wide process of support that includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create a positive school climate. The PBIS model has been expanded to all three Plainville elementary schools as well as Plainville High School. According to Mr. Laudadio, "the Middle School has been very successful using PBIS to create a positive and safe school climate that faculty and students benefit from."

The Middle School has a number of additional initiatives and strategies planned for this year to continue to address the issue of bullying. Laudadio recently met with school bus drivers to update them on the new bullying legislation, and to provide training on their expanded responsibility relative to bullying. The Middle School's Counseling Department held a program on October 20th aimed at sixth graders transitioning to middle school, and addressing the issue of bullying. Students rotated through four interactive lessons that included discussions about bullying and the signing of an anti-bullying pledge. Thanks to funding provided by the Middle School’s Parent Teacher Club, the Looking In Theater group will visit the Middle School on December 15th for an assembly focusing on adolescent issues that include name calling and bullying. The Middle School is also working with the Anti Defamation League (ADL) to specifically address name calling and bullying. "Our work with the ADL will help our student body and faculty develop a common language for discussing issues of diversity, prejudice and name calling. Our goals are to increase students’ awareness of the dynamics of name calling and bullying incidents by understanding the different roles people play and the behaviors associated with each role. We want students to develop practical skills to prevent and positively respond to incidents of name calling and bullying," said Laudadio. A group of Plainville High School students will also be trained later this year by the ADL in a program entitled "From Bystander to Ally: Interrupting Name-Calling and Bullying Student Training." The training program provides practical opportunities to engage students in exploring the harms of name calling and bullying and developing and practicing skills to respond to incidents.

Additional efforts that address the issue of bullying are also in place across the school district. The Project H.O.P.E. (Helping Our Peers Excel) Program began in 2005 as an initiative developed by Plainville Community Schools' Psychologist, Suzanne Schweitzer. At that time, Schweitzer created the program to match Plainville High School Student Liaison Committee members as mentors for fifth grade students at Linden Street School. Since that time, the program has expanded to include fifth graders at all three Plainville elementary schools and has become a huge success. The program is coordinated by Schweitzer and Plainville High School Assistant Principal, Jonathan Coe. The Project H.O.P.E. program model is a half-day workshop where the elementary students spend time in small groups led by their high school mentors. The mentors participate in skits that include topics such as tolerance, peer pressure, drug addiction/substance abuse and bullying. The program also includes components such as team building activities and line dancing.

"I am very proud of all the efforts undertaken throughout the district to create a positive school climate in each of our schools. Plainville is in full compliance with all aspects of the new bullying law," said Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Maureen Brummett.

-Posted on November 22, 2011 at 01:52 PM

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