Published Online: September 2, 2014

Iowa district criticized over bullying complaints

LAKE MILLS, Iowa (AP) — Some parents don't think a northern Iowa school district is doing enough when it comes to dealing with complaints about bullying and harassment among students.

About 20 of them attended an August meeting of the board for Lake Mills Community Schools to voice their concerns about the issue and how it's affecting their children, the Mason City Globe Gazette reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/1oxMYmj ).

Louise Martinson said her middle school-age daughter has been bullied the past three years, but that Lake Mills school officials haven't responded to complaints she has filed on her child's behalf.

"We've had no calls back," said Martinson, who also has a son in high school. "Our complaints are not being addressed."

She said her daughter has been told she'd be shot with a gun, among other threats, and has suffered from anxiety after a classmate's repeated taunting.

District administrators said they're aware of parents' concerns and take bullying and harassment complaints seriously.

"We aren't problem-free, but we can be problem solvers," Superintendent Daryl Sherman said.

He said the district offers a positive, nurturing environment where students generally feel safe and are proud of their school.

James Scholbrock, principal for grades 6-12, said the district is offering staff training and student programs that teach behavioral expectation. He said students of all ages have been receptive to the training program, which is new to the district this year.

The principal said it's difficult to combat misinformation because of student privacy rights. However, he did address the shooting threat Martinson reported, saying he believes it can be traced back to a smartphone and tablet application that became popular with middle school students last school year.

He said he told students it was inappropriate, since it displayed a picture of a gun and imitated gunshot noises.

The school board plans to host a community meeting in coming weeks to gather input before reviewing board policy. Board President Ryan Joynt said he and other board members encourage people to share their concerns both during meetings and on an individual basis.

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Information from: Globe Gazette, http://www.globegazette.com/


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