Taking the Fight against Bullies Online

Article excerpt

Byline: Mick Zawislak mzawislak@dailyherald.com

Officials at two Lake County elementary school districts say they are taking steps to better police bullying and make it easier to report.

Oak Grove District 68 in Green Oaks and neighboring Libertyville District 70 independently this week said they are pursuing new avenues to make schools safer.

School officials say a bullying policy with periodic review has been a state requirement the past few years. While both districts introduced improvements that feature an online form allowing bullying to be reported anonymously, Oak Grove is going full-bore on other aspects of the policy and making sure everyone is aware.

The renewed attention at Oak Grove, a single-school district with about 870 students, comes nearly immediately after one family's decision to transfer their son to a private school because of bullying.

"Like all schools in the country, it's an issue and we just want to do better with it," Superintendent Janice Matthews said.

At a special school board meeting on Wednesday, Matthews outlined several steps planned or in progress to better address the issue. The first was the introduction that day of a new "bullying resources" feature on the website, www.ogschool.org/.

"If people want to report information anonymously, they can do that now through this online forum," Matthews said. "Maybe a child wants to tell us something but they don't want to be identified. What happened is the most important thing to us."

Administrators also discussed a schoolwide plan intended to improve behavior. Aspects include a discipline reporting system and methods to track data, and possibly adding lunch supervisors or other steps, such as having volunteers ride on buses.

"We're basically increasing monitoring of bullying at

the board level," said board President Jennifer Manski. "We have bullying here and it's going to be awhile before it goes away. …