Parents and students speak up about bullying and suicide in GF schools

GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) – Suicide is a tough topic to talk about, but parents and children say more needs to be done after the third suicide in the Grand Forks School District in a little over a year.

It was a pretty standard meeting Monday night until it got to the citizen’s comments. Five different people got up and pleaded with the school district to handle topics like bullying, depression, and suicide in a different manner.

A handful of teary-eyed parents spoke up tonight in frustration with the way the Grand Forks School District has been handling tough subjects like suicide and bullying.

Larry Nyblahd, superintendent: “I thought a lot of good points were made about the need for a community conversation on the subject of teen suicide. And I think it’s important for us to listen to the voices that were expressed tonight and see how it’s important how we can improve how our district approaches the subject.”

While the school district was unable to give any direct feedback to tonight’s concerns, someone who spoke out, is trying to change the way things are handled.

Kane Turney, student: “I started it to bring awareness to suicide and bullying in our community. It’s not only in our community its everywhere. It’s a pandemic. And it needs to be talked about.”

Turney is a student at Grand Forks Central who started a Facebook page called Stand Up Grand Forks. The page is to bring awareness and support to the issues of bullying and suicide.

Roberta Turney, parent: “It’s not a finger pointing campaign. It’s basically an awareness campaign on bullying, that yes there is a zero-tolerance policy but it needs to be upheld and there needs to be stronger.”

Many other parents and students in the district have thanked Kane for his page and say it’s a step in the right direction. A step that they hope the school board follows.

Nybladh: “I always think there is room to improve and I think we need to listen to the voices and attempt to make the improvements.”

There is no timetable on when or even if anything will be done in the school district. The superintendent says he does not feel the district has handled any of this the wrong way.