Students tell Superintendent cyber-bullying a major concern

Students tell Superintendent cyber-bullying a major concern
June 29 17:34 2017 Print This Article

About two dozen students representing ten schools participated in Charleston County School District (CCSD) Superintendent Gerrita Postlewait’s listening tour Thursday and cited cyber-bullying on platforms such as Instagram and YouTube as a serious problem in the schools. An ineffective student disciplinary policy was also a major student concern. The session was moderated by Dr. Joe Williams, CCSD Executive Director for Middle Schools.

Morgan Roddey, a student from School of the Arts,  spoke of the pressure teachers are under about test scores.  She said a teacher told the class as they were about to take a test and to remember that her job depended on how they performed.    Morgan feels there is too much emphasis on testing,  and there are other ways to evaluate teachers.

Lupe Chavez, a West Ashley High School (WAHS) student, said that school administrators need to be aware of the social media presence within their school communities. She cited the group West Ashley Rumble, which glorified the fights at the school. The group has subsequently been shut down by social media administrators. Chavez and two other students are working on lesson plans for CCSD teachers to make students aware of the consequences of cyber-bullying.

Several students said that the CCSD Progressive Discipline Plan removes discretion for principals to remove violent students. Siera from WAHS noted that the school once had seven fights on the same day involving the same group of students. Taylor from Academic Magnet High School suggested that the discipline plan puts chewing gum in class and bullying on the same consequence level. Several other students mentioned that students may be placed on In-School Suspension (ISS) for being tardy too often.

Many students offered that inter-personal relationships need to be fostered in the schools. The WAHS students cited that Principal Lee Runyon has created a culture of encouragement at the school. Siera referenced a phone call Runyon made to her home when she was hospitalized and that he knows students by name. She also mentioned that students with different backgrounds support each other at after-school events.

Postlewait praised the students for participating and speaking up. She said, “Giving our students a voice is essential. You have presented many good ideas on how to deal with disruptions and what you see as the qualities of an effective teacher.” Postlewait expressed support for the suggestion of Lillian from School of the Arts to hold similar roundtable discussions at the school level at which students may express feedback without fear of reprisal.