Bullying and harassment in schools was the topic of discussion during the Joint Standing Committee on Education yesterday.
In the House Chamber, legislators met to discuss bullying in schools. Andy Whisman, the assistant director of research from the West Virginia Department of Education, discussed a study involving the definition of bullying versus the definition of harassment within West Virginia schools.
Whisman says many schools use the terms interchangeably or in some cases, one over the other, which can make dealing with the problem more difficult.
The study found less than 2 percent total discipline referrals last year were for harassment or bullying, and 50% of those referrals were from middle schools. Many of the students who were written up for bullying may have also been written up for things like truancy or disruptiveness.
Incoming House Education Chair, Delegate Amanda Pasdon says the definition of bullying will be discussed further in the coming Legislative session.
“I think our principals are trying to be as on the job as they possibly can,” said Pasdon, “I think we’ll look at maybe bringing those definitions a little closer and kind of understanding, you know, but we allowing…our principals the most latitude to address the problems, the latitude that they need in to address the problems within their schools.”
Last year, over 5000 hours were spent dealing with county schools and parents to resolve bullying issues, Whisman says.