Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 31, 2014

Cardinal achieves Safe School Certification

By NICOLE HESTER-WILLIAMS | Aug 08, 2014

ELDON — As the second of only two schools in the entire state to earn the title, Cardinal Community School District is now deemed “Safe School Certified” by the state sanctioned anti-bullying initiative, Safe School Certification.

The process took 3.5 years as the district worked to gather and assess student behavioral data, develop support plans and implement several of its own anti-bullying initiative programs.

“This is a tremendous honor for our entire school community,” said Cardinal Superintendent Joel Pedersen.

“Our attention to school culture is at the forefront of every decision we make at Cardinal.”

Cardinal Elementary School Principal Heather Buckley said the school has an evidence-based program in place that is geared to support its students. It also has set procedures to collect student data and determine whether a particular incident is in fact bullying, or if it’s actually a conflict, and how best to support students involved.

Over the last few years, Cardinal implemented the “Do no harm” as well as the “Positive behavior intervention and support” initiatives. Both programs encourage positive behavior and attempt to foster an anti-bullying atmosphere at the school.

“The great thing about PBIS is that students are recognized for positive behaviors,” Buckley said.

This fall, Cardinal plans to expand on PBIS by devising a ticketing system to recognize positive behavior and reward good-citizenship weekly.

Additionally, it began an anti-bullying investigations team where school administrator and counselors serve on the front-line as level one investigators.

Buckley said when students report that they are being teased, a pre-screener would investigate how often the occurrences are happening and if a given incident reveals evidence of being hurtful or if there are any differences in power. If any of those things occurred, a full-investigation would be the next step.

“It’s nice to have a bullying investigation system in place when conflict or bullying situations arise,” she said.

According to SSC’s website, in order to participate in the program, a school must be compliant with its state’s safe school laws. SSC staff performs an audit on each candidate’s policies ensuring that the school is compliant with all elements of the law.

Buckley said the SSC’s process allowed Cardinal to reflect on its current practices and provided the framework in which to organize its current resources, multiple data collections and develop a plan for how the district would respond to bully related behavior.

“We hope that our Safe School Certification will help each student develop a better sense of emotional safety, and each student will know the supports and resources offered here at our school,” Buckley said.

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