Snoqualmie schools lay out new bullying approaches

With tears in her eyes, parent Kim Baker called on the Snoqualmie Valley School District Board of Directors to put preventative solutions to bullying in place as the school year begins.

Baker aired her safety concerns during a public comment session at the Thursday, Aug. 19, district board meeting. She brought a similar request to the board last June following media reports of the Nov. 2009 school locker room beating.

Baker said she still questions if Valley schools are a safe, and called on the district to name a bullying prevention leader for all schools.

"We need one now," she said.

Baker also suggested increased numbers of cameras on school campuses, crosswalks and streets.

"This should be a blue ribbon school district," she said.

While Snoqualmie Schools Superintendent Joel Aune told the Valley Record that he doesn't blame parents for inquiring about school safety, he pointed to several new approaches to bullying prevention planned this fall at Mount Si High School and the district at large.

The district has had anti-bullying and harassment programs in place for years, and frequently adds new programs, he added.

"We have evidence in terms of how we walk our talk," he said.

At the high chool, administrators are seeking to engage students and draw out student voices, getting a better understanding of campus concerns. At the same time, Principal Randy Taylor intends to have more and deeper discussions with staff on safety issues, the superintendent said.

"We see this as an opportunity to get better in terms of how we're supporting kids," Aune said.

The Mount Si High School PTSA are planning a forum session this month on bullying and harassment.

"We can do a better job about informing parents, so they can be aware and can reinforce that at home," Aune said.

The district also plans to implement a bullying tip line this fall for Mount Si students.

"Kids can tap in a little more anonymously," Aune said. "If it works, we'll drive that down to the middle schools and elementaries."

School cameras

Responding to Baker's camera requests, Aune told the Valley Record that the district invested heavily over the last two years in upgrades to current security camera systems.

"There are probably a hundred cameras in the exteriors and interiors," Aune said. "There are some restrictions. Obviously we can't have them in restrooms and locker room—those bring up potential problems."

Pointing out that bullying and harassment happen in any district, Aune said those issues are difficult to eliminate.

"Someday, there will be no bullying or harassment, and that's what we're trying to pursue," he said. "Whether we get there next month, next year or 20 years from now, we're paying attention and working on that."

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