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Week of Oct. 25, 2010: Safe schools snippets

Schools get letter about bullying

Read this 7News report on how the feds are cracking down on bullying.

“Public schools could lose federal funding if they don’t properly deal with bullies. “It’s easy for schools to sweep it under the carpet,” one bullying victim said.

But soon it could be harder for schools to ignore the problem. The federal government is sending a letter to all public schools. It gives specific instructions on how to deal with bullying, how to identify it and what types of behavior violate civil rights. If schools ignore the laws, the money given to them by the feds could be cut.”

Finger-ID technology comes to Erie High

Read this Daily Camera story about some new student identification technology that has some parents concerned.

“In an effort to reduce ID-number theft and speed up the cafeteria line, Erie High School is launching a high-tech biometrics system for identifying students through a scan of their index finger.

But Principal Steve Payne said several parents have called him to say they weren’t comfortable with the practice, and one was particularly upset that the school scanned and stored students’ biometric information last week without informing parents first.

“That was an oversight on my part,” Payne acknowledged. “I apologized.”

Instead of keying in a six-digit code in the lunchroom — as they do now — students will place their index finger on a reader that will use seven unique data points on the finger to figure out who they are. At the cashier stand, the student’s name, photo and account information will pop up on a screen and their account will be debited. The system doesn’t capture fingerprints, Payne said.

The 760-student school plans to start using the new system, which was rejected by the neighboring Boulder Valley School District over parental concerns, on Nov. 8. Payne said the school is now notifying parents of Erie High students about the program via e-mail and phone.

Crosswalk near Dakota Ridge High examined after crash

The Denver Post reports on a potentially dangerous intersection and plans to improve safety.

“Even before Dallas Vosburg, 15, was critically injured in a crosswalk outside Dakota Ridge High School two weeks ago, the community knew the crossing was dangerous — but the county didn’t agree.

“That specific spot is on a curve, not a spot where you expect there to be a crosswalk,” said Jim Jelinek, principal at the Jefferson County school. “Add to that high school drivers and teenage pedestrians. It’s been a concern for a long time.”

Vosburg was in the crosswalk at West Coal Mine Avenue just south of West Bowles Avenue on Oct. 12 when a pickup rear-ended a car that was stopped at the crosswalk, pushing it forward and causing it to strike Vosburg. The truck also knocked down a sign that fell on the 10th-grader.

She remains in the hospital in critical but stable condition, Jelinek said. Vosburg and the two drivers involved in the accident all are Dakota Ridge students.

Last December, upon request from the school, Jefferson County’s Transportation and Engineering Division conducted a study and determined the crosswalk was “clearly marked for normal standards,” said Kevin French, director of the division.

Boulder Valley forum focuses on equity

The Daily Camera reports on a community forum held last week in the wake of racist and threatening graffiti spotted at Boulder High School.

“Engage students and their families on equity issues. Use a strengths-based assessment system that values students. Hire more minority teachers, especially in the schools where there are none. Teach the teachers how to handle challenging conversations with students. Celebrate students.

Those were some of the actions proposed at an equity summit held Wednesday at the Arapahoe Campus. More than 60 Boulder Valley School District officials, parents and community members attended the forum, which was a continuation of an equity summit held in August.

The summits are a response to racist death threats that have appeared at Boulder High School and the Arapahoe Campus. Police are investigating two threats, including one targeting Latinos, found scrawled on bathroom walls at Boulder High School on Monday morning.

In one of the threats, the author indicated that he or she would bring a gun to school and everyone would die on Friday. Another threat indicated that Latinos will die. In the spring, another threat at Boulder High targeted black students and invoked the Ku Klux Klan, while a separate threat at the Arapahoe Campus threatened to kill “Mexicans.”

Cheyenne Mountain school board touts drug testing for teens

The Colorado Springs Gazette reports on a new initiative aimed at school athletes.

“Disappointed in the lack of enrollment in its voluntary drug testing program, the Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 board said Monday it will make a concerted push to get more parents to sign up their children for the program that is to begin this fall.

So far only about 35 have agreed to participate in the voluntary pilot program at the high school; to make the random testing viable the district’s goal is at least 100.

The district particularly wants to reach parents of athletes and will give presentations at events, such as the upcoming winter sports open house.

“We need to find out pretty quickly if this program will go forward,” said board member Jack Wiepking.

He said he would like to see 100 percent participation by students in some athletic programs.

“We want those afraid to sign up to know that this is a health issue,” he said. “We don’t want kids who could be on drugs or alcohol to be out there on the ice or in the pool.”

Teaching girls to turn bullies into friends

Read this 9News story that addresses the tangled world of girls bullying girls and how to stop it.

“When it comes to girls and words, one particular word can come to mind.

“I think there’s more drama with girls,” Dominique Johnson, a fifth grader at Vista PEAK, said.

But experts say that drama is not just for show.

“Often times, it’s just taking sides. [It’s] taking sides and saying, ‘I’m not your friend anymore’ and ‘If I want be more popular, I need to be friends with this group,'” Dr. Jennifer Hagman, a child psychiatrist at The Children’s Hospital, said.

Psychologists say that is bullying.

“Kids will try to intimidate others to establish their dominance by putting others down,” Hagman said.

“They would like tease me and everything,” Dominique said.

These days, schools can punish a bully for actions that happen off school grounds.

“Just because it happened yesterday at home, if kids are being impacted and unable to learn things at school, we have an obligation to investigate and see how we can help that kid,” Dr. Barbara Cooper, the chief of equity and engagement at Aurora Public Schools, said.

Study: Half of high school students admit to bullying

CNN reports on a new bullying study, released last week which found that half of all high school students say they have bullied someone in the past year, with nearly as many saying they have been the victims of bullying.

The study of the “Ethics of American Youth” released Tuesday surveyed more than 40,000 high school students and has been conducted every other year since 1992.

The study by the non-profit Josephson Institute of Ethics also found that one-third of all high school students say that violence is a big problem at their school, and nearly one in four say they do not feel very safe there. The problem is much less pronounced at private schools, where the figures drop to less than 10 percent in those two categories.

Weapons are also a part of the mix with 10 percent of all students saying they took a weapon to school at least once in the past 12 months, and 16 percent admitting that they have been intoxicated at school. More than half admit to hitting someone within the last year because they were upset.

Reward, new image in alleged fake-doctor sex assault

9News and just about every other Denver news outlet also reported on a man posing as a doctor who sexually assaulted a child near Lansing Elementary School in Aurora.

“Police are asking for more help in the search for a man they suspect posed as a doctor and sexually assaulted a child near Lansing Elementary School.

The Aurora Police department is now offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who allegedly sexually assaulted a child in her home last week.

Police have also released a new computer generated image of the suspect based on the description from the teenage brother of the girl, who was home at the time of the alleged assault.

Detectives say the image is not a perfect match – the hair color is lighter than the suspects and the features and skin tone may be different.

Numerous tips have been called in according to police, but they say the case is still under investigation and they are hoping the new image will help find the suspect.

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