EAST LIVERPOOL - Bullying has taken on a new form, including in the local school district, according to one board of education member.
Board member Richard Wolf reported at Monday night's meeting he had been made aware of "allergy bullying" occurring, not on a great scale but on a blossoming one.
In this type of bullying, students are forced by other students to eat items they are allergic to.
Wolf said his grandson has a severe milk allergy, and when other students learned about it, milk was poured on his food. His grandson's allergy is so severe he can't come into contact with milk in any way.
"This can be life-threatening. We need to make kids aware," Wolf urged.
Vice President Bob Estell agreed, saying, "To put them in the presence of something harmful is no less than assault, and we need to treat it as such."
According to online reports, statistics vary regarding how many students have suffered allergy bullying, with some saying as low as 12.5 percent and others as high as 55 percent.
Bullying can take the form of verbal taunts, such as "You can't eat (fill in the food)," or threats, "I smeared peanut butter on the fountain," or actual physical action, such as smearing an allergen on a child's forehead or, as in Wolf's grandson's case, their food.
Reportedly, the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FANN) offers a program, "Be a PAL," that helps educate young people on the dangers of food allergies and appropriate or inappropriate behavior.
In other matters, Treasurer Todd Puster reported field work on the state audit is completed and he expects it to be released for public view soon, having been advised it contains no major issues.
- Estell complained about people parking along both sides of the fire lane at Westgate, saying stopping the practice would be as simple as stationing an employee with a cell phone to call a tow truck.
- Superintendent James Herring reported the district met all areas of value added on the annual yearly progress (AYP) and that Westgate and North both met AYP this year.
Saying he doesn't know how this will affect this year's report card, Herring said, nonetheless, "We're going the right way. We might not be there yet, but we're going to get there."
- Settlement agreements were reached and approved in two employee grievances, including one by former guidance counselor Erica Burkey, who resigned but continued her insurance payments. The district stopped her insurance.
Herring said as part of the settlement, Burkey's medical bills for July and August were paid and language was clarified in the contract for future reference.
A grievance filed concerning posting virtual learning academy positions was also settled, with contract language clarified in regard to training instructors.