Group Says Hamilton County Schools Are Not in Compliance With Bullying Laws
That’s the complaint of the education advocacy group known as "Unifi-ed".
Here’s how the district may be falling short.
Unifi-ED is a non-profit group established to make education a priority. The office is filled-with evidence of projects now underway.
The work is being done mostly by students and school volunteers. And one priority for them has been to deal with bullying and hazing at Hamilton county schools. It was an issue long before the current basketball scandal at Ooltewah high school.
ELIZABETH CREWS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNIFI-ED "Hamilton county is actually missing or inadequate 5 points that aren’t there."
That’s 5 points out of 13 required by the state.
Unifi-Ed says the issue is larger than what’s happening at Ooltewah.
ELIZABETH CREWS "From the 2013 school to the 2014 school year unsubstantiated instances of bullying increased 42 percent in Hamilton county. Reported instances increased 19%."
That’s 3 times the state average.
In December, a student voice team identified bullying as one of the most pressing issues facing students today.
NICHOLAS WILKINS, VALEDICTORIAN, OOLTEWAH H.S. "I definitely think bullying and harassment discrimination is part of a school culture. It’s not an isolated incident…it happens in many school and its a wide-spread problem."
Here are the first priorities as requested by Unifi-Ed.
ELIZABETH CREWS "The state law mandates that our school system have a way for students to report bullying and harassment anonymously. Our school system currently doesn’t have that."
The attack on the basketball player underlined the need.
NICHOLAS WILKINS, STUDENT "It definitely hit me hard, I go to that school…I know some of the students that are rumored to be involved, and that’s really close to home."
Crews hopes the fall out from the current violence toward an Ooltewah student will result in full compliance with all 13 provisions set by the state.