May 11, 2018
Mars Area School District is implementing several programs and initiatives to address concerns raised about diversity and bullying in our schools as well as to improve our overall school climate:
- The District has established a confidential Safety Hotline at (724) 625-2720, which will be operational as of Tuesday, May 15. Students will be encouraged to use the Safety Hotline to report any concerns that they may have in regards to school safety, bullying issues, etc. Any and all information provided via the Mars Area School District Safety Hotline will be kept strictly confidential and will be reviewed and addressed immediately.
- The Board of School Directors and the District’s administration are working together to review all District policies related to discipline, harassment and bullying/ cyberbullying. Any recommended policy changes will be posted for public review.
- The District has engaged the professional guidance of Ashley Lovell, Passavant Memorial Homes & Subsidiaries Vice President of Corporate Compliance, who will be advising the District’s administration.
- The District will also welcome Dr. Christine Herring of Herring Seminars & Consultants, who will present an “Engaging in Uncomfortable Conversations About Race & Ethnicity” workshop for a core group of student-leaders at Mars Area High School on Thursday, May 24.
- In addition, Dr. Wesley Shipley, superintendent, will be meeting with students as part of building-level roundtable lunches to discuss school climate and to obtain the students’ input on topics such as diversity and bullying/cyberbullying.
All of the aforementioned initiatives will lead the District and its schools into the “Rachel’s Challenge” positive school culture/anti-bullying program, which will be introduced to all students (K-12) at the start of the 2018-2019 School Year.
Rachel’s Challenge is based on the life and writings of Rachel Joy Scott, the first victim of the Columbine school shooting. The program works to equip and inspire individuals to replace acts of violence, bullying, and negativity with acts of respect, kindness, and compassion and, in turn, to promote a safer, more connected school community.
The District is hopeful that all of these steps will help to improve our school climate and to lead our students, our staff, and the whole of the school community in a positive direction moving forward.
Dr. Wesley W. Shipley