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Quaker Valley takes proactive approach to combat bullying in schools

Wednesday, April 30, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
 

As South Fayette school leaders deal with claims that administrators may not have helped a student who had been bullied, Quaker Valley administrators say they take a “proactive” approach to bullying.

“From elementary school up, our kids have a lot of knowledge about what bullying is and what it looks like,” Quaker Valley Middle School Principal Sean Aiken said. “Our kids have been trained on what to look for.”

District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet convicted Christian Stanfield, 15, of South Fayette on March 19 of disorderly conduct for recording his classmates' taunts on his iPad on Feb. 11. Common Pleas Judge Robert C. Gallo signed an order on April 17 withdrawing the charge.

South Fayette High School Principal Scott Milburn and other administrators listened to the recording on Feb. 12 and forced Christian to delete it, according to a transcript from a hearing at McGraw-Desmet's office.

Stanfield was charged after Milburn called South Fayette police, claiming he had a “wiretapping incident.”

South Fayette Superintendent Billie Rondinelli did not return a request seeking comment. School leaders posted a statement on the district website.

“School district officials treat any and all reports of bullying timely and seriously, and with the utmost care and sensitivity,” the statement said.

“Maintaining a safe educational environment for all students in all respects has been and will continue to be of uppermost importance to the South Fayette Township School District and its personnel.”

Quaker Valley leaders wouldn't comment about the incident in the South Fayette. Aiken said Quaker Valley leaders encourage students to use a bully report form.

“We teach students how to use that form in case they aren't comfortable speaking with an adult or classmate about it,” he said.

In addition, students, families and staff can report bullying and harassment incidents to school personnel or by using an anonymous tip line and e-mail address offered.

The tip line is sent to district administrators who then provide information to the specific building, Aiken said.

“We have to be diligent and make sure we investigate and speak with students and parents,” he said.

Part of Quaker Valley's bullying education includes making students aware of different types of bullying.

“We teach students the importance of being aware of cyber bullying and staying away from bullies (and) how to handle bully-type situations,” Aiken said.

Preventive steps include an Apps for Life initiative that talks about different positive character traits, he said.

Assemblies are held to discuss bullying and counselors are equipped to talk with students about being harassed, Aiken said.

Adam Brandolph contributed to this report. Bobby Cherry is an associate editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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