Grand jury: Schools need adult bully policy

bullying-girlsSAN DIEGO — The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education should develop a policy against adult bullying of children, the San Diego County Grand Jury recommended in a report released Thursday.

The policy, which also should cover harassment and intimidation, either physical or emotional, should be included in the district’s administrative procedures and school site safety plans, according to the grand jury.

School Board Trustee Kevin Beiser said Thursday the grand jury may have overlooked District Administrative Policy 6370, which addresses all types of child abuse.

“Anytime anybody is inappropriately interacting with children or other people,” said Beiser. “There is a very vigorous complaint investigation conducted. We take it very seriously at the school district. It is inclusive of the human resources department, the San Diego School Police Department and the area superintendent. So we make sure that if there is anything inappropriate occurring that we investigate it thoroughly and put an end to it.”

The grand jury also said the SDUSD  should revise procedures so that area superintendents don’t review their own decisions on appeal, and provide timely feedback to those who lodge complaints.

The investigation arose from allegations of bullying by an unidentified district employee. The state Department of Education found in 2011 that complaints by parents were not fully addressed by the SDUSD, and that child abuse had been omitted from district’s safety plans, the report said.

The jurors found that district policies cover student-to-student bullying, but not that sort of behavior directed by adults toward children.

Beiser said he believes SDUSD is doing a good job, but he says there is always possibility for improvement.

“I  look forward to continuing the work on the Safe School Task Force,” said Beiser. “To see how can we expand and facilitate the minimization of bullying between any people in the school district.”

SDUSD spokeswoman Linda Zintz said the report is being reviewed by legal staff. The district is required to respond to the grand jury by Aug. 14.

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