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Discussion of bullying at Lanesboro School dominates council meeting

Sat, Dec 11th, 2010
Posted in Education

Frustrated parents addressed the Lanesboro City Council on December 6 over what they consider a lack of adequate response to their complaints of bullying at school aimed at their children.

A letter from Stuart and Amy Dyreson addressed to the council was not read at the meeting. City Attorney Thomas Manion advised against reading the letter as part of the meeting because it was not policy. He called it a statement of concern by the parents and the city can't be sure of the facts expressed in the letter. He acknowledged that the issue of "bullying" is a serious concern for the community.

A copy of the letter was provided to the press and the couple said in the letter that they had pulled their three children out of the Lanesboro School system due to escalating bullying over the years. They have moved and relocated after 10 years in Lanesboro. They claim the Lanesboro School administration and school board were unwilling to put a "zero tolerance" policy into place. The letter suggested the administration and school board are denying there is a problem rather than trying to fix it.

Statements were read by Karen Neneman, Kelly Jean Ohl, and Tyra Jackson concerning their children and the bullying their children have endured. Neneman said the problem should be fixed rather than blaming the victim.

Neneman suggested the school's policy, as written in the student handbook, is adequate but not enforced by the faculty or the administration. She said the situation has resulted in members of the community taking sides. She explained the length she and her husband, Terry, have gone to stop the bullying, including contacting the state attorney general. She was told by high school personnel that the word "bullying" was overused. Neneman insisted it is the right of every child in the United States to receive a public education.

Parents who removed their children from the Lanesboro School system because of bullying did so because they felt it was not a safe environment for their children.

Council woman Ceil Allen, who has also attended a school board meeting when the problem was discussed, agreed it is a serious problem. She acknowledged receiving calls from parents concerning bullying in the school. Allen said she did not like hearing that six kids have been pulled from the school system over the issue.

Allen said she had talked to the principal who said the school is focused on dealing with behavioral problems with the idea of re-enforcing positive behaviors.

Dr. Jan Meyer insisted it is necessary to admit we have a problem and then do something about it. Councilman Vince Jeanette noted that bullying was a problem country wide. Mayor Steve Rahn assured the parents that their concerns didn't fall on deaf ears. He said members of the city council are concerned. Councilman Joe O'Connor suggested they should work with the school board and administration to get better policies enforced.

Rahn said he would like to hear the school board's position. Allen wants an outcome that gets these kids back in school. The council approved the drafting of a letter to the school expressing their concerns and willingness to work with them to find a way to deal with the problem.

Other Business In Brief

•During the public hearing on the final levy and budget there was no comment from the public. The 2011 final tax levy of $435,306 was approved unanimously, which is a 5.2 percent increase over 2010.

•Vickerman noted that Deputy Clerk Rita Peterson is back part time from medical leave.

•Brian Luna reported that the last weekend was the kick off of the city's Winter Escapades. He asked the mayor and council members if they would participate in the upcoming parade.

•A resolution was adopted on the state contract for snow removal on Hwy 250. Each piece of equipment is contracted for $85/hour.

•The council agreed to accept a statue of Matt Bue from the Fillmore County Historical Society to be displayed in the city of Lanesboro. Bue was a famous photographer who photographed much of the area.

•City Administrator Bobbie Vickerman said she had met with the state senator elect Jeremy Miller to discuss the local sales tax. She was assured that he would work with Rep. Greg Davids in support of the idea. She told council members they need to decide what project the funds would be used for before providing resolutions in support of the legislation from both the city and the area Chamber of Commerce.

•The council approved the bid from Smith, Schafer and Associates to conduct the city's audit. Vickerman said it was the only bid to do the work and was slightly over budget.

•City offices will be closed on December 24 and December 31.

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