#schoolsafety | Bullying: How Northbrook Schools Tackle The Issue

NORTHBROOK, IL — As part of its National Bullying Prevention Month coverage, Patch contacted administrators of dozens of public school districts in Chicago area suburbs to see how they handle bullying in their communities. Across the country, bullying is a problem that affects more than one in five students. While may boil it down to the idea that “kids will be kids,” studies show that students who are bullied are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, poor self-image, mental health and behavior problems and poor school adjustment.

Northbrook Patch posed a series of questions about bullying earlier this month to administrators of Northbrook School District 27, Northbrook District 28, Northbrook/Glenview District 30 and Glenbrook North High School.

Representatives of each all but one district responded with statements (included below) that generally addressed the issue without providing direct answers to the questions asked.

District 27 was the only district not to respond to the questions at all. In a separate message, communications consultant Jenny Quinn described the district is a recognized leader in the implementation of a framework to address the most pressing behavior challenges called “positive behavior intervention supports.” Two of District 27’s three schools, Shabonee and Wood Oaks, have been declared “platinum level” schools for their efforts to promote a positive student culture and prevent problematic behavior with the model, Quinn said. Hickory Point, the district’s other school serving students from kindergarten to second grade, is also holding a “kindness challenge” timed to coincide with Bullying Prevention Month. Students receive “pumpkin bucks” if a teacher sees them doing something kind. District officials aim to collect 300 bucks and conduct drawings for prizes ahead of a Nov. 1 celebration, Quinn said.

District 28 Communications Director Terry Ryan provided the following statement in response to Patch’s questions:

Establishing a safe, supportive learning environment for all students is at the heart of the mission and vision of District 28. The district has a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum that begins in kindergarten that is taught within core instruction. In addition, our Digital Citizenship Curriculum, which was expanded this year, talks about cyberbullying prevention and response beginning in kindergarten.

SEL programming helps children recognize and manage their emotions, appreciate the perspectives of others, establish positive goals, make responsible decisions and handle communications with others.

At the elementary level, we have an SEL Coach who supports the teachers in implementing our SEL curriculum. We also have school social workers at each of our schools to support individual and small groups of students.

Our schools engage in school-wide positive behavior practices. Each school establishes positive rewards, activities and periodic assemblies that focus on positive behavior.

Northbrook Junior High uses Anonymous Alerts, which allows students or parents to anonymously submit any suspicious activity, bullying or other student-related issues to a school administrator. It is promoted to students via school posters, student announcements and on the website.

Across all schools, our building-level teams investigate and respond to reports of bullying in a quick & sensitive manner, applying disciplinary action when necessary. Team members may include building administrators, social workers and teachers.

You can view our school code definitions and discipline policies on our website: ‘Prevention of Bullying, Intimidation and Harassment; consequences for misbehavior

In response to a public records request, Jessica Donato, the district’s chief school business officials there had only been two instances of bullying reported in the past five years, one in 2018 and one in 2015.

District 30 Student Services Director Lauren Schulman provided the following statement in response to Patch’s questions. The district has not responded to a public records request for the number of reported bullying incidents.

Northbrook/Glenview School District 30 proactively works with students, staff, and parents to maintain a healthy school environment. Within our three school buildings, we have eight psychologists and social workers, including two interns. They help lead our multi-tiered system of support that provides interventions to all district students.

Examples of our collective efforts include the implementation of our Social Emotional Learning curriculum, Second Step, which is implemented from our Kid Connection Preschool through 8th grade. The middle school curriculum is enhanced through purposely designed Advisory lessons with a greater emphasis on appropriate communication through social media and promoting cultural awareness. District 30’s technology department teaches our Digital Citizenship curriculum. We follow the foundation and framework of Character Counts that recognizes and reinforces students and staff for pro-social behaviors in each of our schools during school-wide assemblies. Also, Maple’s students participate in Snowflake, and athletic teams take an oath of sportsmanship and fair play each year. The schools are participating in Bullying Prevention Month by providing themes for each week related to promoting kindness, making new friends, standing up for others, and inclusion.

Our District 30 parent organizations (building-based PTO’s) bring in speakers for student assemblies and parent presentations on topics that are relevant in today’s society (e.g. last year’s Leon Logothetis’s Kindness Diaries). We also participate with all township schools in utilizing Text-A-Tip to provide immediate access to a trained mental health professional 24/7.

Regarding bullying, we are guided by Board Policy 720.24 STUDENT WELFARE – Prevention and Response to Bullying (PDF). Many of your questions are answered within this policy. Beyond the proactive work accomplished by our district, we take the welfare of all students seriously and handle student conflicts and bullying individually with students and families.

Northfield Township High School District 225 Director of PR and Communications Karen Geddeis provided the statement and related policies below in response to questions about bullying and bullying prevention at Glenbrook North. The district has not provided any data on the number of reported bullying incidents.

The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority. To that end, we take allegations of bullying seriously and work to address it through prevention, intervention, investigation, and resolution.

Our schools actively promote a school culture of well-being for ourselves and respect for each other. We do this through ongoing assemblies, workshops, guest speakers, and various campaigns.

We offer Text-A-Tip, the Spartan Concern Form, the Titan Concern Center, and other anonymous reporting tools to help students report incidents or concerns for themselves or others.

Upon learning of an incident or concern, our student services teams respond and investigate immediately to substantiate the report.

Disciplinary actions are applied, when appropriate, in relation to Policy 8410, Disciplinary Action Relative to Student Misconduct.

Related Policies:

Hazing, Bullying or Aggressive Behavior Policy 8480

Section A – Introduction It is the policy of the Board of Education to foster an environment which maximizes student learning and employee performance, and a climate of civility among students and employees of the district. The Board recognizes that there are certain behaviors and types of conduct that, if tolerated, would have a significant negative impact upon the learning environment and to complete effective teaching and learning. These behaviors, characterized as hazing, bullying, or aggressive behavior will not be tolerated.

Section B – Jurisdiction The provisions of this policy shall be in force: 1. In any physical area attendant to school or District-sponsored or related activities, whether or not such area is on school or District property (including but not limited to, school buildings and lands, District offices), or at any school-sponsored or related activities, performances, extracurricular and athletic events, school-sponsored travel at other venues; and 2. On means of school-supplied or sanctioned transportation to or from any of the above; and 3. With respect to activities or events at other locations, if the administration determines that the incident bears a nexus (i.e. impact or connection) to the school, safety at school, or is disruptive to the educational environment.

In addition to the above jurisdiction, the administration is authorized to establish a Code of Conduct that imposes progressive loss of privileges by reason of any conduct by a student in violation of these policies wherever the conduct or event occurs. Students who participate in extracurricular activities such as inter-scholastic athletic, drama, fine arts and other competitions or who participate in clubs and activities are representatives of our schools, and as such are expected to conform their behavior to these policies as a condition to continued enjoyment of these privileges.

Section C – Definitions

1. Hazing shall be defined as:

a. Any form of initiation and/or right of passage, whereby the perpetrator(s) applies physical, psychological, emotional, and/or mental threats or actions against another, customarily in an initiation setting, which often self perpetuates. The intent of such behavior is to aggrandize the perpetrator(s) within a vertical authoritarian hierarchy, and to degrade, humiliate, harass, harm, or intimidate the recipient; or

b. When any students is subjected to verbal or physical harassment, mental or physical discomfort, intimidation, embarrassment, ridicule, bullying, or demeaning activity by any individual, student or staff member, or by a group of students.

2. Bullying shall be defined as: When one or more individuals inflict physical, verbal, or emotional abuse on another individual or individuals, including, but not limited to: physical violence and attacks; verbal taunts, name calling and putdowns; threats and intimidation; extortion or unpermitted taking of money or possessions; ostracization and exclusion from the peer Group.

3. Aggressive Behavior shall be defined as: Any expression, direct or indirect, verbal or behavioral, of intent or threat to inflict harm, injury, or damage to persons or property.

Section D – Violations Any single act of hazing, bullying, or aggressive behavior will be considered a Category II infraction in accordance with Policy 8410: Disciplinary Action Relative to Student Misconduct. Violations will be subject to the procedures of Policy 8410 and may include suspension, expulsion, and/or referral to law enforcement authorities.

Disciplinary Action Relative to Student Misconduct Policy 8410

Section A – Introduction The administration is authorized to suspend, and/or refer or recommend to the Board for consideration of disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, expulsion of a student for violation of any of the following policies: Policy 7220: Purpose and Use of Computer and Network Resources Policy 8400: Student Behavior, Misconduct, Rights and Responsibilities Policy 8420: Student Attendance Policy 8430: Student Smoking and Tobacco Policy 8440: Academic Dishonesty Policy 8450: Weapons Possession Policy 8460: Illegal Substances and Paraphernalia Policy 8470: Harassment – Students Policy 8480: Hazing, Bullying, or Aggressive Behavior. Section B – Disciplinary Action Relative to Student Misconduct

1. Students whose misconduct is determined to violate Board policy may be subject to a range of consequences as stated in this policy and in the policies related to student conduct.

2. The Board of Education directs the Superintendent or designee to develop procedures for administering the cases of student misconduct. These procedures will include:

a. Intervention Programs – The Board of Education directs and authorizes the Superintendent or designee to develop intervention programs aimed at assisting students who manifest an inability to adjust to the demands of school life as evidenced by violations of any of the above policies. Such intervention programs may include, but are not limited to: modifying the educational placement of the student, (consistent with the requirements of Federal and State laws relative to students with disabilities, where applicable) recommending community support services, and providing in-school support services.

b. Major Disciplinary Review Committee (MDRC) – Each school shall establish a Major Disciplinary Review Committee. The MDRC shall be chaired by the Assistant Principal for Student Services and shall be comprised a Dean of Students, a social worker and/or counselor who is not the assigned counselor to the student facing discipline, a school psychologist, the Director of Special Education, and other staff members as assigned on a case by case basis by the principal. However, any employee or administrator who investigates an infraction shall not be a member of that school’s MDRC for purposes of review of such alleged infraction. The purpose of the MDRC will be to review each case to; (1) determine if a violation of policy has occurred; (2) assure due process procedures have been followed; (3) assemble documentation relevant to the student and the alleged violation to be used in consideration of the matter; and (4) recommend appropriate action. The MDRC review shall be forwarded to the school Principal and referred to the Superintendent, who may make a referral to the Board of Education for review and possible expulsion.

c. Alternative Discipline Plan (ADP) – The Board of Education directs and authorizes the Superintendent to cause to be developed an ADP for violations of Section D.2. (second offense) of Policy 8460: Illegal Substances and Paraphernalia.

d. Suspension – Suspension is the removal from school for a period not to exceed 10 school days Due to gross disobedience or misconduct, the Board authorizes the administration to suspend students from school for a period not to exceed 10 school days. Students may also be assigned to an in-school suspension or a Saturday detention at the discretion of the administration. A student who is subject to suspension or expulsion may be eligible for transfer to an alternative school program by the Superintendent or Board of Education as permitted by State law.

e. Expulsion – Expulsion is the removal from school for a period longer than 10 school days. Acts of gross disobedience, egregious conduct, or gross misconduct or repeated violations as enumerated in the policies listed above may result in a referral to the Board of Education for consideration of expulsion. Only the Board can expel a student from school. A student who is subject to suspension or expulsion may be eligible for transfer to an alternative school program by the Superintendent or Board of Education as permitted by State Law.

f. Review Procedures – The Board authorizes the Administration to develop informal and formal review procedures for students who are suspended, and/or may be considered for expulsion from school.

g. Hearing Procedures – Students referred to the Board of Education for review of a student’s suspension, or for possible expulsion, will be entitled to a hearing before the Board, or a hearing officer designated by the Board. Unless otherwise directed by the Board, the Superintendent is authorized to engage a hearing officer for the purpose of hearing evidence and providing a written summary of the evidence to the Board for its consideration and final action.

h. Waiver of Discipline Hearing – The Board authorizes the Superintendent to develop a waiver procedure as an option to students and parent(s)/guardian(s) in lieu of a hearing when a major disciplinary infraction may result in a consideration of expulsion and a hearing before the Board of Education or a hearing officer as authorized by Board policies.

i. No disciplinary action shall be taken against any student where the student’s conduct is based totally or in part on the refusal of the student or the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) to administer or consent to the administration of psychotropic or psychostimulant medication to the student.

Section C – Education of the School Community Information about the District’s discipline policies shall be included in the Student/Parent Handbook and the faculty shall review the discipline policies with students within fifteen (15) days after the beginning of each school year or when a student transfers into the District. A summary document will be developed for distribution to students and parent(s)/guardian(s) and for publication to the school community.

Section D-Staff Training and Education The District, at least once per academic year, shall conduct appropriate training sessions for all administrators, faculty, and staff responsible for implementing disciplinary procedures.

Section E – Board Decision Not Precedential The Board’s decision in any case involving this policy shall be made on a case-by-case basis and shall not be deemed precedential in effect.

No Bully/Patch News Partner

The Menace Of Bullies: Patch Advocacy Reporting Project

As part of a national reporting project, Patch has been looking at society’s roles and responsibilities in bullying and a child’s unthinkable decision to end their own life in hopes we might offer solutions that save lives.

Bullying In Northbrook: Share Your Stories With Patch »

Do you have a story to tell? Are you concerned about how your local schools handle bullies and their victims? Email us at bullies@patch.com or share your views in the comments.

Selected Stories From The Project

  • Bullied To Death: When Kids Kill With Words
  • I Could Have Been Mallory Grossman
  • Bullied Over Homemade T-Shirt, Kid Inspires University Of Tennessee Design
  • Howell Teen Runs To Save Lives, Change Statistics On Suicide
  • America’s Shameful Truth About School Shooters And Bullying
  • Cyberbullying Most Often Affects Girls; These Women Are Trying To Stop It
  • Bullying Kids: Straighten Up, Or Your Parents May Have To Pay Up
  • Teen Who Killed Himself Wasn’t ‘Worthless,’ Family Tells Bullies
  • Menace Of Bullies: Why This Woman Resigned Her 6-Figure Job
  • Survivor Of Bullying And Suicide Writes Frankly About Both
  • ‘I Will Be Your Friend’: First-Grader’s Shirt Fights Bullies
  • Girl-To-Girl Bullying: Why It’s Different, Difficult To Confront
  • What Prompts Bullying In This Ohio School
  • Cyberbullying In This Michigan City Carries $500 Fine, 3 Months In Jail
  • Bully Upstander: Whatever He Said Caused Bullies To Back Down
  • Bullying Caused 11-Year-Old To Attempt Suicide, Mother Says
  • Bullied 10-Year-Old’s Suicide 8th In School District This Year
  • The Menace Of Bullies: Most U.S. States Take On Cyberbullying
  • Cyberbullying Is Now Against The Law In Michigan
  • Shooting Incident Linked To Bullying At School, Mom Says
  • Girls More Likely Than Boys To See Bullying As Harmful: Study
  • 13-Year-Old Hangs Herself, But Bullying Killed Her
  • Teen Tells Bullies In Video: ‘Every Day, I Wear Your Words’
  • ‘The Hero Myth’: Why Expecting Kids To Fight Bullies Is Harmful
  • ‘Mr. Anti-Bully’: Reformed Bully, 12, Sets Mistake Right
  • Mallory Grossman Bullying Detailed In Wrongful Death Suit
  • Malden Schools Were Non-Compliant Through Bullying Saga: DOE
  • ‘They All Failed And Changed A Child’: Malden Bullying Detailed
  • Mom Speaks About Bullying Heartbreak: ‘I Feel I Failed Him’
  • Why These Kindergartners Start Each Day With A Handshake
  • The Bully Menace: ‘The Hurt Never Goes Away’
  • Bullies And Their Targets The Same: Digital Self-Harm Rising
  • Williamsburg Poetry Teacher Helps Bullied Kids Open Tortured Minds
  • Bullying Tougher To Confront When It’s Bias-Based: Researchers
  • The Bully Menace: 13 Age-Appropriate Reads
  • Teen’s ‘I Wear Your Words’ Video Inspires Nashville Songwriters

Patch staff contributed.

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