School takes stand on bullying

MANISTIQUE – Keeping students safe from bullying and gun violence were two topics of discussion during the Manistique Area Schools Board of Education meeting this week.

Manistique Middle & High School Principal John Shiner informed the board the H.E.A.R. anti-bullying presentation will be coming to the school on Oct. 29. H.E.A.R., which stands for “Helping Everyone Achieve Respect,” is a 50-minute classroom presentation created by the National Guard, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to end school bullying.

H.E.A.R. defines different types of bullying behavior, provides detailed case studies using both male and female students, and asks students to consider alternatives that minimize bullying and enhance respectful behavior. Students are also introduced to the National Guard Core Values including loyalty, respect, integrity, and honor; and are asked questions to discuss with educators to make the school “a more caring and safe place.”

“Though the presentation is during the school day, the public is welcome to attend,” Superintendent Kathy McDonough said, adding the district annually retrains students and staff on the district’s anti-bullying policy as required by Matt’s Safe School Law of 1976.

In addition to the anti-bullying presentation, the district has joined with other districts in the state to pass a resolution regarding the open carry of firearms in schools.

According to the Michigan Association of School Boards weekly newsletter, current laws list the places where it is prohibited to carry a firearm including day care centers, hospitals, and sporting arenas, but does not specifically list public schools. Rockford Public Schools, which includes portions of Kent and Montcalm counties, passed a resolution urging the Michigan Legislature to add schools to the list of places where it is prohibited to openly carry a firearm.

The board was presented with the sample resolution from Rockford Public Schools and one specific to Manistique Area Schools. The resolution adopted by the board notes the district’s responsibility is to provide a safe environment for students and staff, that the intent of a person entering a public school with an open carry firearm would be unknown, that staff are not qualified to determine a person’s status to open carry, and that in the interest of safety it is not reasonable to take the time to make that determination.

Manistique’s resolution also includes an explanation of the procedures that take place in the district if someone is found to be open carrying a firearm. Any building where a person is found to be openly carrying a firearm will result in that building entering lock down status.

“The board unanimously passed the resolution,” said McDonough.

The resolution will now be forwarded to State Sen. Mark Jansen, State Rep. Rob VerHeulen, State Rep. Peter MacGregor, Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, Michigan Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, Governor Rick Snyder, the Michigan Association of School Boards and the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

Also during the meeting the school board was treated to a mini concert by members of the high school band under the direction of Jermy Connin. The students and their director wanted to thank the board for returning band to the curriculum after two years without the program.