SPARTA, NJ – At the August board of education work session Assistant Superintendent Dr. Melissa Varley presented the annual Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Self-Assessment.  Each school was evaluated in several different categories.  In each of the categories the schools in the district either met or exceeded the standards required by statute.

The first category was that the district Establishes HIB Programs, Approaches and Initiatives.  Mohawk Avenue, Alpine and Sparta High School met the standard.  Helen Morgan’s program called Misfit Sock and Rachel’s Challenge at Sparta Middle School earned them the distinction of having exceeded the standards.

All schools met the standards for Training on Board of Education Approved HIB Policy.  In addition to learning about the requirements of the policy there are School Safety Teams at each building that meet monthly to discuss topics relevant to HIB policy.

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For Staff Instruction and Training Programs Sparta Middle School exceeded the standards with Suicide Prevention Instruction and the Week of Respect initiative.  All of the other four schools met the standards.

All schools exceeded the standards for Curriculum and Instruction on HIB and HIB Personnel.  Varley noted every school had the Anti-Bullying Specialist’s contact information on the main page of their web site along with the online Bullying Report Form and a document called Understanding HIB. 

She also explained that the number of HIB complaints has declined significantly since the program was introduced.  Superintendent Dennis Tobin added that the number of false HIB reports was down as well.  Both attributed this to the vigor with which complaints were dealt.  

"The district has taken each report seriously and investigated thoroughly," said Tobin.  Commensurate with that, every school has exceeded the standard for HIB Investigation and Reporting Procedures. 

The presentation also reported on the most recent school climate survey:

  • Regarding arguments in the school, the majority of parents said that they are arguments between children in all schools
  • The majority of parents said that fights are rare at each school.
  • The majority of the respondents stated that threats against others are rare.
  • The amount of parents stating that students are picked on has dropped from 68 to 42 percent.
  • The majority of parents, over 90 percent, do not believe that theft is a problem.
  • Over 90 percent of parents believe that their child is safe and feels safe at school.
  • Parents also believe that their children are same in school bathrooms.
  • Almost 100 percent of parents believe their children feel safe in the classrooms.
  • Ninety percent of parents believe their children feel safe going on outdoor grounds.
  • Over 90 percent of parents believe their children feel safe going to and from school.
  • Across the district parents feel that some students do get away with too much.
  • All parents agree that there are fire drills monthly in each building.
  • All parents agree counselors are very helpful to students.
  • All parents feel that there are little to no weapons within the school.

Tobin reminded everyone that Varley was the District Anti-Bullying Coordinator.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 25 at 7:30 p.m. in the Media Center of Sprta High School.