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ACLU files complaint claiming Henderson school lax on bullying intervention
ACLU files complaint claiming Henderson school lax on bullying intervention

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AIR DATE: July 24, 2012

For all the increased awareness of bullying and its consequences, at least one Nevada school has apparently failed to effectively address it.

Greenspun Junior High in Henderson is facing a complaint filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada on behalf of two students who were verbally and physically attacked on multiple occasions, based on their perceived sexual orientation. The attacks violate Nevada's law prohibiting discrimination in places of public accommodation.

ACLU attorney Allen Lichtenstein says the complaint takes issue with the school administration’s failure to intervene swiftly on behalf of the students’ safety.

“While the parents did go to the officials to get this stopped, they didn’t,” says Lichtenstein. “And ultimately they had to take their children out of school.”

While it may not be possible for teachers and staff to constantly monitor for bullying, Amanda Haboush, a research associate at the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy, says that an effective school bullying policy can help. However, the policy must have buy-in at all levels.

“I think a true anti-bullying approach needs to occur school-wide. All the teachers need to be on board, and all the staff needs to be on board too, from the secretaries, to the principal, to all the deans,” says Haboush. “The school needs to foster a culture of respect.”

Lichtenstein feels that not only must there be an internal bullying policy that is enforced, but there must be external consequences for the school’s failure to act.  

“If they had some jeopardy for their own action or inaction, we have found their attention level gets heightened,” says Lichtenstein.

The ACLU of Nevada has filed a complaint with Nevada Equal Rights Commission. If NERC fails to act on the complaint, says Lichtenstein, the ACLU will go after the Commission in a separate lawsuit.


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Part 4 (final) of several I replied that it was never my desire to have my son attend the meeting. I suggested that this ploy was something the school did in an attempt to intimidate parents. I further argued that my disagreement with their definition of cheating ought not to be influenced by whether or not my son was at the meeting. In spite of the disagreements, the meeting was, for the most part, amicable; or so I thought. One week later, I received a notice from the CCSD informing me that I had been placed on that schools Do Not Use list. Such a complaint goes on my permanent record as an unsatisfactory work performance and is grounds for termination of employment. The reason given Failure to complete a multiple day vacancy assignment.; NB, the breaking of this assignment, several months previous, had been pre-approved school. Clearly, the real reason, now, for placing me on their Do Not Use list was a failed parent teacher conference. Greenspun may have high standards when it comes to cheating, but they have very low standards when it comes to administrative honesty.
Robert Lee BurkhartJul 20, 2012 10:42:08 AM
Mr. Burkhart: Sometimes students are given assignments where collaboration is encouraged. At other times, the instruction is that for the student to, "...do their own work..." For you to continue to argue, after the teacher explained to you the circumstances of the assignment, where the ground rules were for the students to do their own work, shows a lack of comprehension on your part. I don't think the teacher was right in concluding that you condoned cheating, but it is clear from your own report, that you do not support the stated standards of the school. Given that fact, the school is making a logical choice not to use your services. I just wish that the school administrators were more candid regarding the, Do Not Use, decision. Imagine the outcome if, at the parent-teacher conference you told your boy, right in front of the teacher, that you would not tolerate any form of dishonesty, that he would re-do the assignment at accept the zero, and that he was grounded for a month.
TylerJul 20, 2012 15:21:13 PM
Mr. Tyler, I appreciate your response -- I understand why the administration might not wish me to sub at their school -- it would, however, have been much more honest to simply ask that I not apply for substitute vacancies at their school. Such a request would have been honored by me; achieved the school's desire; and done so without penalty. If my son (or the other boy) had come to school unprepared and one, or the other, was simply copying answers before the bell - I think we would agree that this was cheating. Non-collaborative classroom assignments require the type of independent work you describe. Most teachers would embrace a parent who took the time to review his or her child's homework - they wouldn't call it cheating.
Robert Lee BurkhartJul 21, 2012 07:02:19 AM
Part 3 of several Again, the answer was Yes. I indicated that I disagreed  but got no further  immediately, the teacher stood up and said There is no use talking to a parent who condones cheating and left the room. I requested a meeting with the schools Vice Principal. When I arrived at the school for this meeting I discovered that the school had pulled my son out of class to attend the meeting and also decided that the meeting would be attended by the Principal (Ms. Washington, since retired), the Vice Principal, and the school Counselor. The teacher did not attend the meeting as she had classes to teach (fair enough). Again, I posed the same questions  and, not surprisingly, found the schools administrators in solid agreement with the teacher. Greenspun, I was told, had high standards when it came to cheating. I again argued against their interpretation of cheating and also challenged the 50% late assignment policy. The principal dismissed my son, so he could go back to class, and then asked if I thought it was appropriate to challenge the schools policies with my son in attendance at the meeting.
Robert Lee BurkhartJul 20, 2012 10:39:29 AM
Part 2 of several I disagree with that policy but understood and accepted the decision. I had my son turn in all missing assignments and made it a policy to closely monitor his work. One day I noticed another zero indicating a missing assignment. I knew my son had completed this assignment and asked him why the work was not turned in. He explained that, before the start of school he and another kid were comparing answers to resolve some question both boys had regarding the assignment. The teacher, seeing this, collected both papers and gave both boys a zero for cheating. I requested a conference. As is normal in such situations, the conference was also attended by a school counselor. As this was a homework assignment, I posed the following hypothetical question  suppose two students go to the library to complete their homework  and each student does their own work, but compare answers when finished  would that be cheating? The answer given was Yes. I then posed another question, I asked would it be cheating if, after my son had completed this homework, I reviewed the work and marked those questions that, in my opinion, were either wrong or incomplete?
Robert Lee BurkhartJul 20, 2012 10:37:22 AM
Part 1 of several I have nothing to say about bullying  but quite a bit to say about Greenspun Middle School (not Junior High). My youngest son attended Greenspun, as an 8th grader, in 2004  at the same time, I was employed as a Guest Teacher for the Clark County School District (CCSD). As a rule, I try not to sub at a school attended by my children  but I did sub several times at Greenspun without incident. I did, however, have a problem during a Parent Teacher conference. My son had turned in a number of assignments late and, as is often the case, late assignments are penalized  i.e., they are awarded, at best, 50% credit.
Robert Lee BurkhartJul 20, 2012 10:35:36 AM
Stop this hysteria and deal in facts. There is no "bullying epidemic." There are no more instances of this sort of behavior than in prior years according to national crime statistics. We do not need new laws to address this issue. Assault, is still a crime and should be prosecuted when it actually occurs. This bullying nonsense was brought about by the homosexual community after the Matthew Shepard murder. The agenda behind this is to further erode our freedoms of speech, so that Americans cannot even openly express their disapproval of homosexual behavior. Whenever we see a bunch of non-profit groups piling on an issue, like this packaged issue, "bullying" we had better watch what is going to be done to our LIBERTY. Use existing law. Do not allow any further erosion of our liberty and give no more power to government.
TylerJul 20, 2012 09:45:00 AM
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