'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.

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 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.

Lauren Traut (Editor) June 04, 2012 at 02:04 PM
Thank you, Heidi. I admire what you're doing. I was bullied as a child, and I wish the school would have done more!
It's me... June 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I'm there! My son was tormented in 3rd grade, name calling almost on a daily basis. And this past year he had some bullying happening to him as well. I was in the office as soon as I learned of the incident. The child that is being bullied is given "ways to respond" to bullying but the bully's don't have behavior modification! It's sad to say some of these kids don't have repercussions from their parents either and the behavior continues. If there were rules in place about bullying that might change parents attitudes as well. See you on the 20th! I hope more patents get involved as well.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Our children who are bullied should not be given ways to cope. The bullies should be kikced out of school, perform community service, & taught a lesson early on! My child was thrown down concrete stairs & kicked in the face, stomach, head, back, chest. Shoe prints were there for 2 weeks. administration & teachers in crestwood turned a blind eye to this behavior.Thank god we moved. We now have a straight "A" student. If we stayed there he might not be with us today. Animalistic kids should be treated like animals. Never should they punnish the good ones
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 02:25 PM
AS you can tell I am passionate about this subject!! Sorry!! We love our school now! SOOOO happy we moved out here
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 02:29 PM
The only way to stop bullying is that someone has to take action against the bully. Be it the victim or the teacher or the parent. It has been going on for decades because there is no discipline in the school. My step-son was bullied in the 80's, he finally struck the offender in the head with his lunchbox and the bullying stopped. In another grade, he was constantly picking up his books that were knocked off the desk by another student. So he did the same to that person. At a parent teacher conference, his mother was told that the teacher was aware of it, but he would have to find a better way of solving it. This teacher should have been fired for not stopping it when she noticed it happening. Most bullys know that no one will fight back, so they keep doing it. Thank you
It's me... June 04, 2012 at 02:34 PM
I agree Kim, but my son was given papers on how " to cope and respond" to the bullying. I also asked if they had an anti bullying policy in place and at that time they hadn't and I don't think they have one at this time either. I'm hoping this new Program, Rachal's challenge changes that throughout 159, and not just the higher grades. The younger they are the better the chance of stopping this behavior.
It's me... June 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Sad to say, I think the teachers give up on disciplining some children because their parents are not on board with it, that's the sad fact in society today. I think if there was a policy in place where the kids had to stay out of school a few days, they may not have a choice but to discipline their children.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Kick the bully out of school. When the parents have to pay for private school that will get there attention! The horrible attacks were daily & it was when he was 11 years old. He did not want to fight back because the TEACHERS told him if he fought back he would be in trouble & get kicked out of school !???? what were they thinking.
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 02:50 PM
That is the answer, but most of these union teachers do not want to take action. My grandson was struck by a child of another race in Oak Lawn Schools, he told his mother, who contacted the teacher and the teachers main concern was that the injured child doesn't hold this against all children of that race. The kid should have been suspended, as an aide was a witness to the crime. What was done, NOTHING. Thank you.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Yes r w voter! A teachers aide called me at home & stated: Get him out of here. they are eating him alive! Can you believe this. We pulled up & left as soon as we could 7 months!!! And I was going to the school 2 times a week & talking to the principles & assistant principle
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
And let me guess Kim, they did nothing to the offenders. Right?
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 03:34 PM
What they need in Mokena schools, is a reasonably paid Dean of Discipline. Obviously the highly paid administrators are blind to this problem. Forget these goofy time outs and red lights and green lights. If the kid screws up, his parents get notified and he gets a suspension, plain and simple. Due to protective bus service, children can't get detention or just stay after school. And you just can't send them home like the old days but suspension or reprimands which add up to suspension is a great idea. Thank you.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 03:53 PM
you are so right they did nothing to the offenders. I had to call the ambulance when I went to school to pick him up. I had to call the police when I went to pick him up! They did not even call the officer on duty at the school!!!
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Does not surprise me, when they don't do their job, the children who want to learn can't learn anything. The teachers are afraid of causing trouble, usually the offender's parent has been through this before and they raise heck. Then the useless administrators take it out on the teacher. These people are all paid enough money and dealing with the parents is unfortunately, part of the job. If the kid is a problem he should be removed from the school. Schools are for learning, good behavior is taught in the home to start with. Bring back schools like Montifiore for the problem students. This is why I prefer private schools, but my step son's problems were in a Catholic School so they are not without blame. Thank you.
Donny June 04, 2012 at 06:50 PM
To play devil's advocate here, if you were the parent of a child accused of bullying-what would you do? Don't you think you would demand proof before your son/daughter was kicked out of school? This is the problem with bullying and how it is handled in school. The administration has to have proof of the bullying. If something happens in a bathroom, recess, hallway, etc when nobody is watching (and yes, we have to face the fact that a teacher cannot see everything all the time) then it's even tougher for the school to do something about it. Then it becomes a "he said/she said" thing. If the school can get proof, then kick the kid out. But it's disappointing to hear so many blame the schools for not doing much when they don't realize that you can't just start claiming your kid is bullied and expect immediate action. Can't expect kids to just start getting kicked out or suspended because a parent says their kid was bullied. Has to be proof. Save any text messages, take screen shots of computer pages, etc.
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Of course I would ask for proof. Two of the three incidents I have described were observed by school personnel and the other incident was observed by his grandmother. There are enough incidents that would be observed by school personnel, that you wouldn't need to consider anonymous complaints. As always there has to be a witness, unless in the case of a repeat, repeat offender, he could not dispute the fact. Some kids are just born bullys. Some always are just born victim's. Thankyou
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 07:12 PM
In our case the teachers aides saw it! the teachers saw it! the lunch ladies saw it! guess what the on duty police officer friendly saw it too! . But....They were all afraid to come forth to say something because of the administration. their bosses. They were told to control their own classrooms & do not go to them. and the officer was afraid he would loose his job & receive car duty if he said anything! how's that for the great people who are suposed to be protecting our kids.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM
plus the bloody footprints were a tell tale sign too! But you kind of know when certain kids are trouble makers & others are not. so you do need proof too. & lots of it!
Lonny June 04, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Donny is right. A great majority of the bullying goes on at less structured times like before and after school, during passing periods, and at lunch. And with the latest cuts there are now fewer and fewer teachers to monitor the students. Perhaps part of the solution is to hire more teachers and aides? And please don't confuse what went on in Crestwood and Oaklawn with what happens here in Mokena. Different places, different situations.
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Bullies are bullies no matter what town. I will say this area is far far better than many others. but parents need to confront their kids when it is brought to their attention & tell them that being a bully is unacceptable behavior. and remember little bullies grow up to be big bullies
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 08:52 PM
If the teacher doesn't know what is going on in the classroom then they aren't doing their job. Safety of the students is the responsibility of the school personnel. They have more aides per student than they ever did. They don't want to get involved, I know it and so do you. As for Lonny's last statement, the reason this is being written about is there is a problem in Mokena, Agreed. Maybe they should lengthen the day for teachers so they can lunch at different times so the children could be monitored and be safe. Maybe get rid of unnecessary personnel and hire security. No child should be afraid at school and bullying creates that. If there is bullying in first grade, the same ones are doing it as they get promoted. Ray Charles could pick them out, same ones every time. Thank you.
R.W.Voter June 04, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Kim, should anything like that ever happen again, especially with a Police Officer, get on the phone and call for a Supervisor immediately, He/She shouldn't be a Police Officer. As for the school personnel, What do you expect from them, they can't even teach the kids. Thank you
Kim McAuliffe June 04, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Thank you! As you can tell I'm very vocal, so nothing gets past me for 1 second. I expect no less from other people. I tried to go through the proper channels but to no avail. That is why we moved. So please let everyone know you will not tollerate bad behavior
Lonny June 05, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Aides and teachers "don't want to get involved". What evidence do you have that this is true?
R.W.Voter June 05, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Please visit the facebook page and you will see examples of lackluster attention to these incidents. It is eye opening and I hope you can change this. In my years of school, no one was scared going to school except of the nuns and brothers, but that was expected. Thank you
Hannah O'Dell June 06, 2012 at 11:06 PM
hi this year I was being by this boy. named******he bullied me every day.my teacher did nothing. this year I was a peer mediator I asked mr .mcgreal. for advice to deal with this kid. in the last week of school I asked to see Mrs. biddenger the social worker. I would come home in tears. and know I can still cry about it .he has a friend who is the owners son of all American pet gromer. but the school did nothing apsulutley nothing.
Kim McAuliffe June 07, 2012 at 02:08 PM
hannah, First , I am so sorry to hear about you being bullied. Remember the bullies are just trying to make themselves feel better about themselves by picking on other people. They must be difficient in some way. Talk to your parent or parents. All of you need to go to the school NOW! email principles teachers superintendants. Go to the SCHOOL BOARD!! Do not take that CRAP the bully is dishing out. They can be kicked out of school for up to 1 year. Then the parents have to pay for private school. maybe then they will contain the animals! Do not be a victim! You have more rights than you know!!!!!!!! Go now! Administrations of schools are there all year long!. Please let me know how it goes! Be froceful direct & above all honets. You tell them you want punishment to fit the crime. small bullies grow up to be big bullies! Kim Mc
Kim McAuliffe June 07, 2012 at 02:10 PM
sorry I was so upset I spelled wrong! Be Forceful Direct & Above All Honest!!!
Ellis Worthington June 07, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Bullys? It's the parents of the bully. You will see them smiling when their kid knocks down another kid in preschool. They are making their kid tough for the world. Survival of the fittest and such. If your kid is getting hassled, find a coupe older, tougher kids to hang w/ your kid and 'tutor' him in self-preservation. Best $100 you've ever spent.
Kim McAuliffe June 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM
awesome ellis...I was trying to be politically correct with my answer. When I was bullied as a young child I stuck a pencil through the kids back she never bothered me again!


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