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School Board makes amendment to CMS bullying policy

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools' bullying policy caused quite some controversy 2 years ago, when an amendment added homosexuals to the list of students protected from harassment The issue sparked heated debated among board members and the public.

And then the issue died down a little and people moved on, or so we though until it was revisited at the March 9th School Board meeting. A new state statute requires that CMS change some of the wording in the policy, which means a new draft is being written. The new draft will only change some wording, and not much of the policy itself. CMS has no choice but to adhere to the new statute and follow the law.

In the first paragraph, an amendment is being added that states a person has a right to freedom from harassment and bullying 'because of an association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics'. So not only are people with a list of characteristics protected, but people who associate with them. There were some adjectives added to the list of protected characteristics as well, including but not limited to; 'ancestry', 'developmental disability', and 'academic status'.

It has also been added that the bullying policy, called policy JICK, is not specifically for school grounds but for any 'CMS-sponsored event'. Other amendments protect those who report harassment and bullying incidents anonymously, and outline the Superintendent and Board's job to enforce the policy.

Most of the CMS School Board members understood and supported the new revisions to the existing policy, (Trent Merchant was absent) but a couple wanted to revisit controversy from the 2008 debate. At-Large member Kaye McGarry questioned the time spent by staff and teachers on mandatory training on the policy and how it is enforced. She suggested that it took time away from the day to day operations and valuable instructional time. District 1 member Rhonda Lennon stated her displeasure with the complicated nature of the policy, but in the end voted to support the amendments The vote passed 7-1, McGarry voting opposed.

Veteran Board Member Coach Joe White noted the importance of enforcing the policy and closed with this statement: 'The easy part is what we do here... the tough job is for those of you out in the trenches.'

To see the revised JICK policy go to http://www.cms.k12.nc.us/boe/proposed%20policy/1%20-%20policy%20jick,%20bullying,%20public%20hearing%20version.pdf

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