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North Bend parent's school bullying support group starts small
Setting an ambitious schedule for her fledgling foundation, North Bend parent Kim Baker readily admits that she will need help to accomplish her goals.
"Right now, were looking for strong partners in the community to help us make a difference," she told the small group attending the first public meeting of Survivors of Snoqualmie Valley School District No. 410 Foundation.
The foundation is Baker's invention, a group with a mission of improving school safety by preventing bullying, rape, and suicide, as well as drug and alcohol abuse. She said she started the foundation for her children, both of whom had been victims of bullying and threats of rape and death in the school district, and for other families who've suffered the same.
"I want people to realize that they're not alone," she said. "I was told the whole time we've been in this district that I'm the only person who's ever stepped forward, that nobody else in the district has stepped forward, and I know that's not true," she said.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District was unaware that the foundation had formed, but said that the district seriously examines all of the incidents that students and parents report. Investigations are led by the principals of the buildings where incidents are reported, and the district involves police, as needed.
"Safety in our schools has always and will always be a priority," said school spokeswoman Carolyn Malcolm. "Over the past two years, all of the schools in the district have done a lot with safety and respect programs," she added, pointing out that the district website lists this information, www.svsd410.org/parents/harassment_bullying/prevention_support.asp.
Baker has frequently addressed the school board about a variety of school issues, including bullying incidents. Her daughter, a student at Twin Falls Middle School, has tearfully told the board twice this year about her own experience being bullied. Baker said no school board member has ever responded to these comments.
Malcolm said the board can't respond at a public meeting because of laws regarding minors' privacy. "The district will never engage when an individual is talking about a specific student," she said.
With the foundation, Baker hopes to create a safe and secure environment where bullying victims can share their pain and get support. She also hopes that as attendance at the meetings grows, they'll be able to provide networking opportunities and resources, and to organize fundraisers for prevention programs targeting bullying, rape, and suicide.
Survivors of Snoqualmie Valley School District No. 410 Foundation can be contacted at P.O. Box 2240, North Bend, WA 98045.