Vallejo school anti-bullying forum gets heated


The district presented some of its anti-bullying measures, but many parents say they don't far enough.

Jessica Romero says her son was the victim of a recent bullying incident. She said, "This little kindergartener came over and started choking him, and threw him around like a rag doll."

The Vallejo City Unified School District acknowledges that bullying is a problem, which is why it held a forum for parents about what they can do to minimize problems at school. The event, however, got off to a tense start.

"It's time to take drastic measures, your PR and all this nice talk is not helping," said LaDonna Williams in the meeting.

Williams is the mother of a sixth grader who was recently bullied. The video we obtained Tuesday shows her daughter being beaten by an eighth grade girl at Hogan Middle School last month. She was sent to the hospital for head injuries and now Williams is angry over the way the district handled the aftermath.

"They refuse to expel her [the bully] because they refuse to admit that there's a problem, so they do the normal two-day suspension. But the parents should have to pay for damages as well and when they start to put in measures like that I guarantee you they'll get results," said Williams.

But the district is instead focusing on its efforts on what it calls "positive behavior support." In the fall for instance, students will be taught conflict resolution strategies.

"Which is a skill that is needed in all of our schools, to teach students to be able to problem solve rather than to resort to fighting," said Benita Sager, the district anti-bullying coordinator.

Parents, meanwhile, will be encouraged to talk to their children.

"When your kid comes home from school, ask them, 'What good happened today?' But also begin to say, 'What bad happened today? What didn't work well for you?' And that's a chance to model some problem solving with the child," said Jeffrey Sprague, Ph.D., a guest speaker.

None of this was enough to convince Romero. What she wants is for the district to be tougher on those who bully. She says those who bully "need to go to an alternative school or something because they continue day in and day out."

Many of the district's anti-bullying measures will be implemented in the fall, but teachers and district staff will also be attending workshops over the summer.

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