Crescent School Board members Susan Hopper, left, and Board President Trish Haggerty, center, listened to a presentation Thursday by schools Superintendent Dave Bingham. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Crescent School Board members Susan Hopper, left, and Board President Trish Haggerty, center, listened to a presentation Thursday by schools Superintendent Dave Bingham. (Paul Gottlieb/Peninsula Daily News)

Crescent School District amps up anti-bullying efforts amid parent concerns

JOYCE — Crescent School District is stepping up its anti-bullying efforts after parents expressed concerns Thursday at a School Board meeting, decrying what they described as student-on-student, teacher-on-teacher, and teacher-on-student intimidation, Superintendent Dave Bingham said Monday.

Bingham said staff, students and the community will be asked to participate in a “climate survey” next week to assess the “how they feel things are going” at 210-student, K-12 Crescent School.

“I am going to meet with my office staff and review our HIB [harassment-intimidation-bullying] policy and the avenues available for students and parents to report concerns,” Bingham said in an email Friday to School Board members.

Parent Amanda Jennings said last week that student bullying has gotten so bad that she has pulled her three daughters from the school, adding that the bullying was verbal, not physical.

She said she is homeschooling the girls through the end of the school year June 19.

She said Monday she might re-enroll her children in September depending on the district’s progress.

Jennings and another parent from among the half-dozen who spoke on the issue during the general public comment session at Thursday’s School Board meeting raised the specter of kids committing suicide if the school district does nothing.

The unchecked bullying at the school “makes it hard and a potentially unsafe situation for the kids and teachers and staff,” Jennings said.

Jennings said the parents’ concerns were stoked by the March 2004 death of a 13-year-old boy who died by suicide with a rifle he put to his chest while in a classroom of students at Crescent School.

While there was no indication in published reports that the 2004 suicide was linked to bullying, Jennings said the boy’s death was in the back of their minds.

Those concerns are “why we are all doing what we are doing” in coming forward, Jennings said.

School Board President Trish Haggerty told the parents at the meeting that a district policy on harassment, intimidation and bullying, which “clumps” the behaviors together, should be reviewed.

“Maybe it’s time that that definition needs to change,” Haggerty said. “Something needs to change.”

But another parent said lack of enforcement of the policy, not the policy itself, is at fault.

“The bullying policy has never been used,” parent Melissa Corey said.

Suicide “is a threat, a very real threat,” she added.

Bingham said Monday the district is already making progress.

An anonymous tip line on Crescent’s website homepage under the “safeschools alert” banner was added to the homepage Friday after it had been inadvertently left off the district’s new homepage a year ago, Bingham said.

Written bullying report forms also will be more readily available at the main office, Bingham said.

He said the district also will address what one parent described at the School Board meeting as teacher-on-teacher bullying, a characterization Bingham disagreed with while acknowledging some discord among school staff.

He said teachers are adjusting to recent high turnover and an educational program in flux.

“We are dealing with some situations we are working on, developing our teamwork plan.

“Our staff are having some professional discussions about what type of educational services are most effective, and I don’t think that fits in the realm of bullying,” he said.

“To be sure, we are all part of the redefining of our educational goals,” added Bingham, a 32-year district employee who was the assistant principal-athletic director when he became superintendent last July.

One parent at the meeting said she knew of nine teachers who wanted to leave the school district, nearly half of the school’s 20-person teaching staff.

“When we have 48 percent of the staff saying, ‘I don’t want to be here,’ we are on a path to toxicity,” she said.

“We may not be able to overcome that unless we become proactive and get ahead of this now.

“I do not want my children to be negatively impacted because adults, for whatever reason, adults can’t get along. They don’t need our drama.”

The assertion that nine teachers want to leave the school “doesn’t fit my data,” Bingham said Monday.

“I’m aware of a couple,” he said, adding that teachers leave for reasons including lifestyle changes and other factors extraneous to the school district.

Parent Tuesday Mattix also said at the School Board meeting that a teacher was bullying a male student.

Bingham said Monday she was complaining about a specific teacher Bingham would not identify.

Bingham said the teacher “doesn’t have the level of attention he wants” with some middle-school students.

“He asks them to put down what they are doing and to pay attention,” Bingham said.

“From what I have seen, and so forth, this teacher works pretty darn diligently at being able to have students attend to a task while they are in class.”


Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at

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