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Rome School Officials will use DASA committees to help tackle bullying concerns

By NICOLE PITT

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - The Rome City School District is hoping to make some changes to address the bullying problem inside schools.

At last month's meeting many people spoke out about the bullying problem. Some students admitted they were scared to be at school and a teacher admitted there was a student who said he wanted her to die.

The board announced Wednesday night some plans for tackling the bullying concerns. It begins with the Dignity For All Students act or "DASA." It's a program that's been at the school for a while but fell to the back burner last summer. Now it's at the forefront once again. Some are happy with the progress made so far, but others are not.

"We don't need a committee. We don't need to spend money," said Maria Fulgieri, a teacher who was threatened by her student. "People need to step up and say enough is enough. This is the line. You cross this line, this will happen." Fulgieri says she has hired an attorney as this process moves forward. She wants to see three things from the administration- accountability, communication and transparency.

"I have to tell you that every request that the parents have made to be heard has happened," said Tanya Davis, PTG President at Staley. "I've had personal meetings with Mr. Simons with our Assistant Superintendent. Our DASA committee has been very engaged and active. Information has been made available to us. Our principles have been very responsive. Our students who are wanting to have dialogues are getting responses to their questions."

There were about 100 people inside the auditorium at Staley Upper Elementary School, but the mother of a girl who tried to commit suicide after being bullied says the seats should be full. "You people sitting here complaining and arguing and saying all of the bad things need to get your family, your friends, your parents and teachers and people involved in this," said Michelle Grifasi.

Grifasi went on to say she doesn't think the problem lies solely on the administrators' shoulders, but the parents as well. "I was here pouring my heart out about what this school district didn't do for my daughter but what are we doing as parents for our children when we don't hold them accountable to their actions," asked Grifasi.

Kathleen Murphy, a former teacher, said she thinks the schools should offer anger management and more counseling to the students. "Just suspending them is not the answer because when they return to our schools they still carry on the same unacceptable behavior," said Murphy.

"It does starts at home," said Davis. "It starts with that expectation of we don't do that here, this is how we behave. And we go to school, the same message. We don't do that here, we don't disrespect each other, we don't do hurtful things to each other."

The DASA Committees will be made up of administrators, teachers, parents and community members. Those members will look over policies and determine what needs to happen inside the schools to improve the bullying situation. The committees will submit their recommendations by July so they can be implemented by the start of the next school year.

"It's really become a community engagement process and it's hard to see that sometimes," said Davis. "Especially when your schools are large and all of the sudden this feeling of 'it's my child' has moved into 'we really have to make the whole thing better.' "

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