A month after a deadly stabbing in a Bronx school, the de Blasio administration announces a series of new anti-bullying initiatives. Here is the story.
Bullying had been a problem at the School for Wildlife Conservation long before a student fatally stabbed another last month. Students had reported bullying. Teachers had reported bullying. The Education Department’s own data showed clear patterns of bullying.
After the stabbing, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration faced hard question about how it had ignored so many red flags.
Now, officials say, things will change.
“Today I am announcing the launch of new anti-bullying initiatives to better serve students and families and also ensure schools are providing safe and inclusive learning environments in every building,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina.
The changes include making it easier for bullied students to transfer schools, and giving 300 schools with the highest rates of bullying more training and support
Officials also vowed to give parents a way to report bullying, require schools to develop individual plans to help every child who is repeatedly bullied and create student clubs dedicated to tolerance.
The new programs will cost $8 million a year.
“This is not easy,” the chancellor said. “This is certainly not going to happen overnight.”
Chancellor Farina unveiled the new policies at a City Council hearing, where she was grilled for more than two hours on what the city is — and is not — doing to keep students safe.
“Do you acknowledge that these might not be isolated incidents but there may be a systemic problem of bullying?” Councilman Ritchie Torres asked Farina.
The city council wants the Education Department to be more transparent about where bullying is happening and when. The Chancellor agreed to provide more data – saying the city will begin to report the number of incidents of bullying, harassment, intimidation or discrimination at each school.
But for that data to be helpful, schools need to be reporting bullying, as required. Last year, there were just 3,200 incidents reported, an average of fewer than two bullying instances per school. The Education Department says it will work with schools to improve reporting.