Bullying breakdown in FHC

Bullying has a spotlight on it as Dept. of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigates district, school

The Francis Howell School District is a place known for its fight towards unity and togetherness as a community. This thinking was shown in a different light when KMOV posted an article about an investigation involving racial bullying in not only FHSD, but in the halls of FHC.

Principal Sonny Arnel is one of the school’s biggest advocate in fighting bullying and getting teachers involved with the students.

“I try to make the staff aware that our job is not just content curriculum, it is to notice if something is different, something is odd, find out if a student is upset and get them to a principal or counselor,” Dr. Arnel said.

The main issue with reporting bullying, and other issues like it, is what constitutes bullying, according to Dr. Arnel. Teachers and administrators try to figure out the guidelines on how to classify these types of occurrences as bullying or just a minor misdemeanor.

“What we have conflict with is, what is bullying,” Dr. Arnel said. “Is it we sit down together and sit in a group and I don’t like you and you don’t like me, and I say something rude, is it bullying or is it just a rude comment made?”

Bullying is an issue that not only affects the school itself, but it also reflects upon the district. The district takes the issue of bullying very seriously, and always tries to teach its students how to deal with bullying. Superintendent Dr. Pam Sloan views bullying as an issue that should never be taken lightly.

“The district is very sensitive to the issue of bullying,” Dr. Sloan said. “We work from pre-K to high school so kids know what it is and how to report it and develop skills of empathy so we don’t have these issue.”

The topic is mainly focused towards those in elementary and middle school, but less towards those in high school. In high school there is a lot of focus on content, so much so there is not a lot of time to try and improve character.

“We try to do a couple things a year where we talk specifically about bullying. We do one in the beginning of the year, the other in the beginning of second semester,” Dr. Arnel said. “In April, we always do an activity in homerooms where we talk about character education and those are all attempts to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The process for reporting discrimination and bullying can be lengthy, and the Department of Education outlines the process in this article.