By Stephen Smoot
Recently, regional media reported on discipline related accusations and incidents that occurred at Pendleton County Middle/High School.
One incident involved the discovery of Post It Notes with racially charged language. The other was a fight that, among other potential factors, also carried accusations of use of racist language as part of the confrontation.
“We expect our staff and students to comply with our safe and supportive schools’ policies and that’s how we addressed it,” said Charles Hedrick, superintendent of Pendleton County Schools, to WHSV Channel 3 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He added, “It ensures that there’s no tolerance for harassment whether it be religious, ethnic, racial, or sexual in nature. We’re committed to promptly addressing those issues.”
Pendleton County Schools uses the STOPit anonymous reporting system to help students who feel bullied or harassed or wish to report incidents happening to others. This app allows for reporting of problems without fear of being named. Reporters can submit via app, website, and telephone hotline. According to the STOPit website, reported incidents go to a national incident response center with trained specialists. This allows for both a timely and appropriate response or alerting of proper authorities, especially during times of the day and week when school officials may not be working.
It also properly documents incidents for school officials or others to review.
Hedrick stated to WHSV that “it’s always concerning when we see this type of student conduct violation and we have the STOPit app which is available to our students. It allows for anonymous reporting of any type of harassment or any other concerns which our students might have.”
He added that “I would say to those families and all of our families that we have no tolerance for racial harassment of any kind, nor do we have tolerance for any other type of harassment.”
Privacy laws and policies prevent the school system from sharing details of disciplinary actions that involve minor children. Additionally, it is unethical for the press to report on these types of details of such events even if they come to a newspaper or other outlet’s attention through other means.