ATHENS — A request by an Ardmore High School student’s family to transfer him to another school because of bullying prompted Limestone County Superintendent Thomas Sisk to plan an anti-bullying seminar for county teachers.
Sisk wants to spend $5,000 to bring in a retired deputy sheriff who travels around the country to speak to teachers about how to reduce bullying in schools.
The Limestone school board voted 4-2 at a special meeting Tuesday to allow an eighth-grader to transfer from Ardmore to East Limestone High. Sisk said the child was mistreated by other students at school to the point of being physically ill at the thought of going to school.
Board Chairman Darin Russell said similar situations had been denied transfer and wanted to know why this case merited a transfer.
Sisk said transfers are allowed in cases of hardship.
“The hardship is the child’s welfare and well-being,” Sisk said.
Despite his questioning, Russell voted in favor of the transfer. Earl Glaze and James Shannon were the two dissenters. Glaze said he did not believe it was “the right thing to do.”
“We keep saying ‘well-being,’ but from my understanding the child brought this on himself,” Glaze said.
Glaze was referring to an incident on a school bus in which the eighth-grader lashed out at other students.
Sisk said the decision to transfer was not based solely on the bus incident, but on a “pattern of mistreatment.”
Glaze was skeptical that the administration at Ardmore had been sufficiently educated about the problem or allowed to deal with it.
“We are moving a child, and we don’t know the facts,” Glaze said. “What have we done to try to fix the problem?”
Sisk responded by saying “nothing, but we plan to” and cited his plan to bring in a speaker. He also wants to partner with the Limestone Sheriff’s Department for the seminar, which will cost about $5,000.
Sisk said it counts as professional development for teachers.
Sisk said Tuesday’s transfer wasn’t the only incident that inspired the workshop, but it did reinforce for him how necessary it is.
Sisk attended a school security workshop Tuesday in Decatur. He said the workshop is a good model for Limestone’s anti-bullying program.
“There’s a lot of kids in a school,” Sisk said. “Some are older, some are younger. It’s a natural inclination to not always get along.”
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