PLAINFIELD, NJ – Plainfield Board of Education members, Superintendent Dr. Diana Mitchell and community members listened to an update on the district’s Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) program. Under the NJ Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, all schools within the district are required to complete the self-assessment report each school year.
Denise Shipman, District Anti-Bullying Coordinator, provided highlights from the Annual Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) reports.
All districts and schools are required to complete School Self-Assessments that are based on a point system and rubric scoring with a maximum of 78 points, to determine a grade under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.
There are eight core elements that are scored in the self-assessment:
- HIB programs, approaches or other initiatives
- Training on the Board of Education approved HIB policy
- Other staff instruction and training programs
- Curriculum and instruction on HIB and related information
- HIB personnel
- School level HIB incident reporting procedures
- HIB investigation procedure
- HIB reporting
According to the report, the district experienced a total of 34 cases over the 2018-2019 school year, representing a 21% decrease over the prior school year, and signaled an improving school culture that, Shipman stated, is one of Dr. Mitchell's goals. Reports continue to show a decreasing trend since the number of incidents peaked in 2014-2015 with 94 cases.
The nature of the cases included name calling, inappropriate touching, cyber-bullying, threats/physical acts, and teacher investigations. Twenty-four incidents were confirmed after investigations were conducted.
Shipman reported that the highest number of incidents occurred within the elementary schools (16), followed by the middle schools (12), and lastly, the high schools (8). Most occurred on the playgrounds, in classrooms, lunchrooms, hallways, and on home computers, commonly referred to as “hot spots”.
Shipman highlighted that the district was in one hundred percent performance compliance with performing the HIB investigations, one of the eight core self assessment elements, completing the investigations within 10 days.
The district also received an improved self-assessment score of 77.9, a 4-point increase over last year. The maximum score that can be achieved is 78.
See detailed report online: HIB Report
Board member Lynn Anderson asked about the tracking mechanism in place to track and monitor students after the incidents occur to ensure that they are being provided for. Shipman indicated that counselors and school-based youth services are used to perform follow-up with the students. She said the district will research and implement additional procedures to report follow-up information back to the Board.
Shipman also gave a scenario to help the audience better understand the difference conflicts and bullying, and suggested that a key question to ask is “Is there an imbalance of power between the parties involved?”
Certificates of appreciation were also presented to 10th grader Chelsea Young, as well as two students who recited the pledge of allegiance in English and Spanish.
A Work & Study meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 24 at 8 p.m. in the conference room at Plainfield High School, 950 Park Ave.
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