Students and parents in the Mars Area School District continue to express frustration with the amount of bullying they say is happening in their schools.
About 75 people attended Tuesday night’s Mars School Board meeting and about 20 addressed the board with their concerns. Those concerns included current students who are seeing students being bullied as well as experiencing it themselves. Parents pointed out a lack of communication and transparency while pointing to in-house plans and resources that they believe are not being utilized.
“We need to work together and recognized when bullying has occurred….whether it be racism, sexism or homophobia,” Megan Russell, high school student, said Tuesday to the board. “I’m embarrassed to say I’ll be graduating from Mars.”
Parent and pre-school teacher Lisa Suppo also spoke to the board.
“I’m concerned about what is and what is not being done in the district to help our kids,” Suppo said.
According to board members and Mars administrators, the district is taking steps to correct attitudes and behaviors through actions, like beginning a program called Rachel’s Challenge next year. The district also plans to increase focused diversity training through bringing in a public school diversity specialist.
The discussion of bullying at Mars was brought to the forefront after an incident in April that led to a physical altercation between two students.
The district described the incident has “hateful rhetoric” and said such behavior would not be tolerated. The superintendent said the incident was under investigation with the help of local law enforcement.
Due to privacy laws, the administration would not give an update regarding the investigation at Tuesday’s meeting.
Last week, parents said the situation involved a white student that called a biracial student a racial slur, which led to a fight. They say the student who was called the word got suspended, but the student that used the slur did not get in trouble.