Residents Question Board on What is Being Done About Bullying

After an incident on June 15 that sparked state-wide attention, the Londonderry School Board was met with a subject that has appeared to be swept under the rug for years: bullying. On June 15, juniors at the high school, celebrating spirit week, wore black clothing to represent their class color. One student, however, made the decision to paint his face black. Although, the incident appeared to be a poor choice and not a malicious one, it still left parents of African-American students worried that the school district is not doing enough to combat the bullying that is present in Londonderry schools.

Parents gathered for the School Board’s meeting on June 19 to ask the School Board what they plan to do about this issue, because it will only get worse if it continues to be ignored. The Board was presented with stories about-not just one, but hundreds of issues and incidents which African-American students have had over the course of their years as part of the Londonderry school system with being bullied by their fellow classmates.

Members of the School Board appeared to be both shocked and disheartened to learn of these stories presented to them and how they seem to be unreported to the higher authority of the district. School Superintendent Scott Laliberte felt that this incident was a “wake-up call” for the district and shows changes need to be made going forward. “We need to see this as a moment, not only to educate ourselves, but also to educate our students. That’s one of the things we are looking to do going forward.” Laliberte said.

School Board member Steve Young spoke out on his feelings on the subject. “After 15 1/2 years on the School Board, this is actually the first time that I have heard about racial issues.” Young also went on to say that the fact that these incidents of bullying are not reported is “unacceptable”. “I am flabbergasted that I haven’t heard a word about this in 15 1/2 years, and I apologize for that.” He also made the recommendation to any parent or student who feels that their child or they are being bullied to contact the local police immediately.

Members of the community spoke out to say that these incidents of bullying have to be dealt with and that it is troubling after hundreds of issues, this was the first time the School Board had heard about them.

School Board member Dan Lekas also spoke about the conduct report they receive once a year. “One of the things that’s usually very small on it (conduct report) is the bully line,” Lekas said. “From what I’m hearing tonight is that I think I have heard more tonight than I have actually seen on one of these reports.” Lekas then asked for principals and teachers in the district to step up and report these incincidents of bullying that are being left unreported. Chairman of the Board Jenn Ganem thanked the parents and students who have stepped up to voice their concerns of bullying in the Londonderry School District. “What you came forward with, we will continue to address it as we go.” Ganem said. “My eyes are now open. Thank you for coming forward and having the courage to do so.” There is no doubt this will be a long and ongoing process to address the reoccurring issues of bullying in school system. Policies will need to be reviewed to help better educate everyone-students, staff, teachers, and even the community as a whole. It is a very sensitive subject that is sometimes is left under the rug and forgotten about, but swept under too many times causes more and more issues and those problems may be irreversible if not dealt with immediately.

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