BOZEMAN — When children come home from school usually, they have stories of what happened on the playground or what they learned that day… but the stories these parents are hearing are quite alarming.
“My daughter was choked twice to the point she could not breathe," one parent said in public comment at a recent Bozeman School Board meeting. "That boy that did it was sent back to class.”
One of several stories shared during the last Bozeman school board meeting about what a community of parents is calling a desperate need for intervention at Meadowlark Elementary School.
“We’re very concerned about... about the climate at Meadowlark, about safety, bullying, and frankly the lack of the administration’s efforts,” another parent told board members.
Multiple parents reached out to MTN News about their child’s personal experiences and “to start a serious investigation in the misbehavior matrices and protocols put into place for the Bozeman school district."
And we reached out to the school district to get their response to the allegations.
"We’re investigating that right now, and I can speak in general terms about our bullying, harassment, intimidation and hazing policy,” said Deputy Superintendent Instruction, Marilyn King.
District policy 3226 specifically identifies what bullying is, prohibits it, and states it will not be tolerated. But parents say it’s not being enforced.
“There’s a beautiful policy. It’s all written out, but my concern is it’s not being followed. How do we make this all come full circle?” Asked a parent.
The problems may not be solved with a single, quick fix but parents have identified what they want the first step to be.
“There has to be a way of opening the lines of communication other than just a blanket email. Now we just all need to get together and do better whether it’s hey what do we do?" a parent commented. "Maybe we all need to sit down in a room together and go what do we do.”
And the district seems open to that.
“When we work to resolve issues in the district we ask that parents always start at the lowest level either at the level of the classroom teacher or their building principal and when parents don’t feel that the issue has been resolved, that’s when Central Office gets involved and the only way we can work toward resolving these types of issues is to open up a type of dialogue and that’s why we will be reaching out to those families,” said King.
To file a formal complaint about specific incidents within the district, parents can fill out a form called a uniform complaint which can be accessed here. District policy says there’s an investigative process that follows.