Jamestown School Board Hears Concerns Over Bullying

Concerns over bullying were heard Tuesday by the Jamestown school board. P-J photo by Jordan W. Patterson

Concerns over bullying and teen suicide were brought up during a meeting of the Jamestown Board of Education on Tuesday.

“We’ve had a lot of deaths recently in the community and it really just needs to be addressed, like today,” Katina Glenn said.

Several people who spoke identified themselves as concerned parents or concerned graduates of Jamestown High School. Each had different perspectives and varying opinions on the topic of bullying. A few told stories of being bullied in Jamestown High School, while giving the board suggestions on how to combat the “cyber age” of bullying.

Numerous residents referenced an app called “Sarahah” that lets people message each other anonymously. Testimonies at the board meeting described the app as a way to continue the bullying when students leave school, and because it is anonymous, the bully cannot be identified. A major aspect emphasized during the open session was that suicide awareness and bully prevention should be more prominent throughout the year and not just on one specific day or week.

Bret Apthorpe, superintendent of Jamestown Public Schools, adjusted his report to address the number of people who spoke during the open session. He did already have a segment ready to address bullying and the steps the administration is taking to combat the issue.

New on the Jamestown Public Schools website is an addition where students select their school and fill out an anonymous form to inform the administration about a bullying incident.

“Baby steps,” Apthorpe said about the response to bullying in Jamestown.

He did acknowledge that the school still “had a lot to do on this topic, for sure.”

“We’re in the education business because we care about these kids,” Apthorpe said.

Paul Abbott, president of the school board, addressed the audience directly after the open session when he emphasized student safety. “To everyone who spoke, I want to thank you,” Abbott said.

He said involvement from the entire community needs to emerge and also acknowledged that with advancements in technology children have a harder time escaping abuse.

“We will continue to make sure that we are doing all that we can,” Abbott said.

After the public comments were address, the regular board meeting proceeded with resolutions and an audit report. The report concluded that Jamestown Public Schools finished the 2016-17 school year with a surplus of $2,604,789 in the general fund. Vernon Connors, director of finance and business affairs, noted that the district was in good standing financially.