Parents want more accountability when it comes to bullying

ELKHART, Ind. (WNDU) – On Wednesday, Elkhart Community Schools held a “Grill and Chill” parent anti-bullying advisory meeting.

The purpose? To discuss solutions around bullying.

The corporation did not allow 16 News Now to film or join the facilitated discussion since parents would be sharing “confidential information.”

However, over the past several months, countless parents have openly shared their stories and frustrations with 16 News Now, and have demanded that schools do more to combat bullying.

Elkhart Community Schools said they want to make schools safer, and are looking for ways to improve.

The corporation admitted they can do a better job, especially when it comes to reporting bullying incidents.

“There needs to be greater understanding around the reporting of bullying, what’s happening, a more detailed explanation of how…the online system works; and what we are doing as a district to move forward into next year to make sure we do as we said, to make bullying a focus for all year, not just something we kind of do at the beginning,” said Superintendent Steve Thalheimer.

“…and [this] has to be something that we can never allow to happen again, through improving our polices, our training and our working with students and parents,” said School Board Trustee Secretary Douglas Weaver.

This, coming after the death of 12-year-old Rio Allred, who took her own life back in March after heartbreaking claims that she was bullied multiple times at North Side Middle School.

“There is a desire among people to just be able to share their stories and the truths that they felt,” said Thalheimer.

Weaver said the district has been “ahead of the curve” on bullying.

16 News Now asked him if he thought parents would agree this with statement.

“Anytime you have a suicide and stuff like that, they are going to say we were not ahead of the curve, but we can always improve. We obviously, I would say to the fact that ugh…could have done better. You know. You know. Anytime you have an incident like this, whether it’s death, you know, in your family for reasons and stuff like that…it’s I don’t know,” he said.

Parents said they want more follow through, more accountability and more action.

“I think it starts with communication between the schools and the parents. If we can get them contacting both parties, that’s a huge start there…Because so many things are being swept under the rug. There’s no accountability,” said Parent Jessica Yost.

Meantime, 16 News Now has been investigating the bullying problem in Michiana.

In our research, we found that multiple schools reported zero bullying incidents last school year.

Parents are demanding change.

This is a topic we will continue to follow closely.

Be sure to stay with 16 News Now on air and online as we continue to bring you the latest coverage on developing stories.

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