Jeannette's Parents Who Care group continues efforts
Having a child of her own bullied was the catalyst for Kelly Priester Simpson to start the Parents Who Care group for children and families of the Jeannette City School District.
In April 2012, Simpson said her son was a victim of a bullying incident on a school bus.
Simpson and her son, Jimmy Thompson, were dissatisfied with the way the situation was handled by the district and were concerned when he received threats after the incident via the social media networking website Facebook.
Simpson's concern about the incident itself and the aftermath, led Simpson to start the Parents Who Care Group, which held its first meeting in June. The group has met every other month since that time.
During the formation, and since, Simpson received a lot of support. An employee of the Westmoreland County Clerk of Courts Office, Simpson has received the full support of her boss, Clerk of Courts Brian Cline, who has attended meetings and advised parents.
Sheriff Jon Held has also been a big supporter, along with attorney Patricia Elliott who specializes in family law. Simpson said Maria Brasco Tyger, also a Jeannette resident and parent of a school-aged child, has assisted her diligently along the way.
Tyger is employed as a family therapist and her expertise has been helpful to Simpson.
The group has met with the school board and is working closely with the school district. Simpson speaks several times a week with Pat Rozycki, the principal at Jeannette High School, and she also talks frequently with parents whose children are having bullying issues at school.
Simpson said the best advice she can give parents is that if something happens to their child, they need to tame their anger before approaching the school board, so that they are taken seriously.
In her own case, she said it was took from April until June before she was calm enough to talk to the school board, but it was worth the wait.
Simpson feels that because she was able to go into the meeting with a calm demeanor and a level head, she was taken seriously.
Future plans for the group include an evening of training for parents and children in regard to drug and alcohol usage and its effects in regard to cyber bullying.
The group also has a Facebook page called Parents Who Care Jeannette City Schools, where interested parties can get information about the group.
Anyone who would like to contact Simpson about the group, or discuss a problem with her, send her a message through Facebook. The group's Facebook fan page will post updates and information.
Margie Stanislaw is a freelance writer.