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The Suburbanite
  • Father wants teeth added to Canton schools bullying policy

  • Bill Daugherty told the Canton City Schools Board of Education Monday that his son was beaten on a school bus last month because of community rivalry at Lehman Middle School. He wants more security and a set of penalties added to the board’s newly adopted bullying policy.

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  • A father whose 12-year-old son was beaten last month on a Canton City Schools bus told the Board of Education that its new policy on bullying, passed at the last meeting, is “a joke.”
    Bill Daugherty, visibly angry, tore up a copy and said it was “a mouthful of words with no teeth” because no clear consequences for bullying are listed.
    Daugherty said his son’s beating was the result of gang violence at Lehman Middle School and that the rivalries are perpetuated by the administration’s division of students into “communities” or teams. The communities, labeled 7.1, 7.2, and 7.3, are spawning gangs, he said.
    Daugherty filed a police report and said the two boys who beat his son have admitted their involvement. It is now in the hands of the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office. They were also disciplined by the school.
    Daugherty said the bus driver claims to have not seen the incident and he was told the camera was either not working or not on.
    He asked that the board adopt a “zero tolerance” policy on bullying, and require that, “If you beat someone up, you get expelled.”
    He also requested more security in the bathroom that his son’s 7.1 team shares with the 7.2 team, saying that “7.2 own the restrooms.”
    Ed Rehfus, Lehman’s principal said following the meeting that the school cooperated with law enforcement in the assault incident and added a bus monitor to that particular bus route. He said also that the bathrooms are being more closely supervised during breaks.
    He acknowledged that gang graffiti from the three communities appeared on bathroom walls following a bullying assembly presented to his school by Ken Kendall, the district’s chief of security, another issue brought up by Daugherty.
    “In years past, we have had occasional problems with communities, but up until this school year I was not aware,” Rehfus said of the intense rivalries between the three groups, although he remembers addressing it early in the 2010-11 school year, as well.
    He said the students sometimes take community pride to a level they shouldn’t, “but I don’t think it’s as rampant as (Daugherty’s) presentation said.”
    Superintendent Michele Evans said once they learned of the problem, they dealt with it, but she is concerned that the camera was not working considering that the district spent $30,000 on new ones recently.
    In other action, the board adopted a policy Monday that will make the high school principals accountable for how athletic ineligibility and academic intervention is handled by coaches.
    The new policy, said board member Eric Resnick, gives coaches and administrators “more latitude to do what is necessary for the student.”
    “We’re saying, we get it. We value (sports), but we want someone to make sure the intervention is going on,” said Resnick.
    Page 2 of 2 - What hasn’t changed, he noted, is that athletes falling below a 2.0 grade point average still will have to attend academic intervention to continue to participate, but that intervention will be prescribed by the student’s needs, not by the board. Also, intervention will happen if the student falls below a 2.0 average in one subject, even if the cumulative average is above that mark.
    In the past, the schools’ policy dictated what the intervention would be. However, explained Resnick, a study table might not be the most effective intervention for a cosmetology student, for example.
    Last year, when McKinley head football coach Ron Johnson’s teaching contract came up for renewal, two board members, Resnick and Wilbur Allen voted to non-renew, in part, because of his failure to have study tables for his players. Under the new policy, he can do whatever academic intervention he sees fit in order to maintain a player’s eligibility and McKinley principal Deidre Stokes Davis will have a mandate to evaluate his methods.
    Canton City Board of Education
    Monday meeting
    OTHER ACTION
    The board adopted a calendar for the 2012-13 school year. For the first time, most county schools will have the same start and end dates, as well as Christmas and spring breaks, with the exception of Alliance and Massillon City Schools.
    FOR YOUR INFO
    The superintendent removed from the agenda the contract renewals for Timken and McKinley head football coaches Kevin Henderson and Ron Johnson, respectively, at the request of the board. She said she will recommend renewals to the new board at the next meeting.
    McKinley’s head swim coach Sam Seiple was recognized for his efforts in maintaining a diverse swim team.
    Outgoing board members Eric Resnick, Wilbur Allen III, and Jennifer Keaton said their farewells at their final meeting.
    UP NEXT  Meets at Schreiber Elementary at 6 p.m. Jan. 9.