A report on discipline at the Barrow County Board of Education work session Tuesday became a discussion about bullying in the school district.

“I don’t know what’s more important (than this subject),” board member Rolando Alvarez said. He suggested that money and time spent on the subject would be worth moving resources from other areas in the school district.

Vice chair Lynn Stevens said bullying and harassment are “symptoms of a larger problem.” She said students are not born hating people or naturally bullies. Those are learned attributes, she said.

She said the schools — “because we have to do everything else,” she said — need to teach students “the importance of being nice.”

She said a teacher of the year candidate in the district did not have discipline problems that other teachers did because she spent the first week of school “not teaching a thing except how to get along with each other.”

Matt Thompson, director of student and data services, outlined the district’s discipline reports for 2017 compared to the state average and to a comparable group of districts to Barrow in size, budgets and demographics.

In broad categories, such as drugs and weapons, interpersonal issues and order violations, he said Barrow is generally lower than the state and comparable district figures. In the “overall disciplinary incident rate,” he said Barrow has lower numbers. Barrow had 232.2 incidents per 1,000 students. The state rate was 373.4 and the comparable districts were at 306.8 per 1,000 students.

Board member Connie Wehunt flatly said, “I don’t buy all of this. We have a lot of bullying going on in our schools. We have a lot of violence in our schools.”

See more in the March 28 edition of the Barrow News-Journal.

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