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This week's safe schools snippets

Fewer students suspended from Denver schools

DENVER – Fewer students are being suspended from school in Denver than in recent history.

Statistics obtained by 7NEWS show there were nearly 1,700 fewer students suspended from school last year compared to five years ago. Jorge Martinez knows what it’s like to be suspended. Watch the 7NEWS report.

Internet safety for elementary school kids

When elementary-aged children first start exploring the Internet, most parents are concerned about “stranger danger” – the chance kids will meet a dangerous adult. While parents do have to be aware of online strangers – and teach kids how to avoid them – keeping kids safe online is a lot more than watching out for strangers. Staying safe is about a child’s entire online experience. Read more in the Parent Dish.

Colo. Legacy Foundation offers blueprint to end bullying

The Colorado Legacy Foundation has released its Colorado Blueprint for Bullying Prevention.

The report, which grew out of a statewide Bullying Prevention Summit in April, concluded that while educators do appear committed to addressing bullying – 98 percent of teachers say it’s their job to intervene if they witness a child being bullied – most say they need more training in effective strategies.

The areas of greatest need:

  • Cyberbullying
  • Sexting
  • Bullying related to sexual orientation, gender and disability

The report also identified some best practices in bullying prevention, including efforts at creating a respectful school climate, training all staff in bullying awareness and prevention, increasing adult supervision in hot spots where bullying occurs, and immediate, consistent intervention.

Among the ideas districts have tried to reduce bullying – comprehensive internet safety training and a district-wide gay-straight alliance summit in Cherry Creek; ongoing training for staff in Pueblo; and recruiting community members to help monitor anti-bullying efforts in Mesa County. The Legacy Foundation is currently accepting applications for grants to fund new programs to enhance bullying prevention efforts.

Not everyone likes Denver Public Schools’ discipline system

Discipline policies in Denver Public Schools have been praised as models for other districts across the country, but in a couple of recent cases, relatives of students have questioned whether the softer approach is protecting their kids.

In one, parents at Denver’s Edison Elementary went to police themselves to report a fourth-grader who they said threatened to bring a gun to school after Edison officials decided not to report the incident. Read more in the Denver Post.

Noel students honored for PSA on dangers of texting and driving

Denver’s Rachel B. Noel Middle School students were recently named finalists in the Kids Witness News (KWN) New Vision Awards video contest. A group of 10 students created a public service announcement, “It’s in the Text,” which highlights the dangers of texting and driving. Out of more than 75 middle and high schools from across the country that entered the competition, Noel was the only middle school to be recognized as a finalist.

Led by teacher advisor and technology specialist Richard Carter, this is the 9th year that Rachel B. Noel has entered the contest and been named a finalist. In 2008, the Noel team won the national “Best Video of the Year” award and won a trip to Japan.

Sponsored by Panasonic, KWN New Vision Awards is an annual video contest where students can enter videos in three categories: Panasonic advertisements, the environment or social issues. The winning videos were selected by a team of students from the arts and film division of a selected university. This group selected the top 10 videos from the 75 submitted. An independent panel of professionals in the broadcast and film industries then choose the top four winning videos.

The top four schools, including Kingston High School (NY), Maui High School (HI), Val Verde High School (CA) and Rachel B. Noel Middle School, had the opportunity to travel to New York City earlier this month for the awards ceremony and a tour of the city.

Check out Rachel B. Noel’s PSA and other award winners.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.

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