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Plum board updates bullying policy

| Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014, 9:01 p.m.

The Plum School District several years ago adopted both a bullying policy and a program to address the problem.

Plum School Board members recently reviewed the policy and turned their attention to updating each schools' parent and student handbooks with information on how a bullying incident is monitored once it is addressed, said board member Michelle Stepnick, policy committee chairwoman.

“We are going to include (in the handbooks) more clarity on the follow-up and the time frame of the follow-up,” Stepnick said.

“We need to make sure the student (who was bullied) is OK, and we have to look at addressing the kid who created the situation.”

The board in 2008 adopted a policy with respect to bullying. The policy was updated in 2012.

The district also introduced the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program in the elementary schools and Oblock Junior High.

Plum's five elementary schools went a step further and followed the Olweus program with positive behavior programs.

Holiday Park Elementary School's program, “CHAMPS,” enables the staff to recognize positive student behavior and reduce bullying behavior, Principal Fran Sciullo said.

“CHAMPS” is an acronym for Caring, Honesty, Attitude, Manners, Pride and Support.

Students are taught to identify bullying and report incidents, Sciullo said.

“We educate kids on what to do in different situations if they are bullied or see someone else bullied,” said Dave Pucka, fifth-grade teacher and a member of the school's anti-bullying committee.

When students behave in a manner that conforms with the values, they are given a “CHAMPS” ribbon, Sciullo said.

Students with the most ribbons at the end of the school year are designated “Citizens of the Year,” Sciullo said.

An offending student faces punishment, and follow-up is conducted with parents of both the student who was bullied and the offender.

“It is a team effort,” Sciullo said.

Stepnick anticipates student handbooks will be updated with what the schools do to follow up a bullying incident for the 2014-15 school year.

Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400 ext. 8753 or kzapf@tribweb.com.

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