Archive for Wednesday, November 19, 2003

THS principal clearly voices school’s rules on bullying

Derogatory terms not allowed at high school

November 19, 2003

Mike Bogart, principal at Tonganoxie High School, has spelled out a new rule.

Specifically, the use of derogatory words such as "gay," and "fag," will not be tolerated.

In a note sent to teachers on Monday and read to students during their first hour classes on Tuesday, Bogart explained he has been disappointed by the use of derogatory terms, and that anyone using them must face the consequences.

Punishment for a first offense would require a student to serve time after school. Consequences for later offenses would be more severe, Bogart said.

"The casual use of derogatory terms such as "gay," "fag," etc., by students has been very disappointing and will no longer be acceptable without consequences. Anyone who addresses another person in these terms must serve some time after school as a first consequence. These terms are not tolerated where you work, attend church, etc., and do not belong in school. Thank you in advance for the improvement in this area."

Faculty comments and Bogart's personal observations of student conduct precipitated the new ruling, he added.

"As the note says, we're disappointed in that kind of language and sometimes I think that can be the root of our problems, whatever they may be," Bogart said. "It's really not what kids should be doing. They have to learn at school so they can carry it on into others areas."

Bogart noted that such terms are not tolerated in the work force, or in church.

"We have to, as principals, just interpret the rules to make the school run better," Bogart said. "And that is well within the scope of the handbook. We had to be specific about this because we saw a need for change."

Superintendent Richard Erickson said Tuesday that he was aware of the new rule.

"But I really don't have any comment on that right now," Erickson said. "I just feel like there are some things that we're trying to take care of, and that we will take care of. ... We are trying to take a strong stand and we are trying to follow our policy and we will continue to do so."

Two weeks ago The Mirror published the story, "Students grapple with bullying," which discussed the concerns of parents of children who have been bullied at both the junior high school and the high school.

The mother of one of the high school students who has been bullied said she was pleased with Bogart's decision to clearly define and prohibit derogatory names.

"I was happy to see that Mr. Bogart himself has seen the problem and that he took steps to try to get it under control," the mother said.

Bogart noted that through the years schools have kept watch on students' language.

But in the past it had more to do with grammar.

"It used to be they corrected youngsters for using the word 'ain't,'" the principal said. "We were corrected on that when I was in school because it was bad form. Well this is definitely bad form and it's part of their everyday language."

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