'It's for the Kids': D159 Parent Rallies for Better Anti-Bullying Policy
Heidi Yergler Herrmann, a stay-at-home mom, found out her fourth-grader was being bullied at school and now she wants it to stop. Not only for her daughter, but for all the children in the district.
District 159 mom Heidi Yergler Herrmann doesn't want to take any chances. Bullying at school isn't something to be taken lightly, and she worries that's exactly how the district handles it. Herrmann's daughter spoke of bullying in school this year—and in her voice, Herrmann heard a call to action.
Herrmann recently started a Facebook group to unite parents looking to make a change in the way the school district handles bullying.
Although her efforts stem from her daughter's troubles this year, Herrmann said it isn't just about her child—it's about all of them. She added that although she is a stay-at-home mother with no background in anti-bullying, she is willing to learn.
“I'm willing to investigate programs, to do the research,” she said. “I'm not a professional in this area, but I can do the work, it's for the kids.”
Superintdent Steve Stein says the district has offered some anti-bullying programs already. The district brought Rachel's Challenge to the junior high level, sharing the story of a Columbine victim and her compassion for others. However, Stein said that there is not a specific anti-bullying, program in place in the younger grades—yet. Instead of labeling programs or concepts as anti-bullying, district administration currently focuses on shaping students with “pro-social types of behaviors.
“It's how you interact with your peers, it's how you interact with adults in the building,” Stein said. “A lot of times it's not only just what we say, but how we say it. That concept of the 'Golden Rule,' treat others as you would want to be treated, those types of things.”
He added that it is a “slam-dunk kind of concept,” that Rachel's Challenge, or something similar for anti-bullying, will be in place at the lower grades soon.
For Herrmann though, the district planning to add to or amend the current policy on bullying or harassment isn't enough.
For their part, Stein said he and adminstrators are always open to parent interaction with school programs.
“I certainly welcome any parental support for any of the programs that we have, anti-bully or anything,” Stein said, adding, “I certainly welcome any thoughts or ideas that parent groups have.”
Herrmann has plans to address the Mokena 159 Board of Education at its next meeting, June 20.