CBS 11’s Arezow Doost Reports:
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s a district facing two federal investigations and several complaints from parents.
Birdville ISD has been under fire for its response to bullying allegations. But the district has made major changes, incorporating anti-bullying messages in every aspect of the school day.
And now some parents are praising its response.
Selene Palos picks up her two girls up from school every day. “I do worry about bullying.” It’s on that ride home her daughters tell her about what they’ve learned.
And lately it’s been about a new initiative aimed at making sure they’re safe in school.
“The school is doing very good to encourage the kids not to pick on each other.”
All over the halls at any Birdville ISD campus are the signs of CORE – or Community of Respect Everywhere.
“We were given a challenge to look at what we were doing in our district,” says Birdville district coordinator of counseling services Donna Layer.
Layer and district spokesman Mark Thomas are among a group that has spent hours working on the new program.
“There wasn’t one program that just worked for everybody,” says Thomas.
At the heart of it is respect. Teachers are expected to incorporate the districts new adopted core values in their lessons.
Speakers have already started going to the campuses and talking about bullying and other issues students may be dealing with.
“If you get to understand people you are given an opportunity to know them and to learn about their difference and their qualities and their strength then you have no reason to criticize, harass or bully somebody, ” says Layer.
According to several parents Birdville ISD has had a serious bullying problem.
There are two federal investigations into how the district handled complaints from students
One student, Cane Smith, told CBS 11 he was constantly taunted and verbally abused. Another student, Joe Jackson, says he was assaulted in the locker room shower.
“Obviously issues cause you to take a different look at things and re-analyze what you are doing” says Layer.
“It’s an issue that needs to be addressed, hopefully we can do a little part to impact that” adds Thomas.
For parents like Palos, that’s an encouraging sign that the district is proactive. “It makes me feel good that the school encourage not to bully other kids.”
Over the summer teachers to bus drivers were all trained on the new initiative.
The district even brought in consultants and a specialist to work with them on the program.
They say they are re-evaluating the initiative everyday and making changes to it as necessary.