The city’s school district saw 176 more reported incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying in the 2014-15 school year than the year prior.
The total reported incidents of bullying in the 2014-15 school year was 712, according to the district. The total reported for school year 2013-14 was 536, according to the district. The higher number of reported incidents marks a nearly 33-percent increase from the previous academic year.
Although the reported number of incidents saw a dramatic spike, confirmed cases remained steady. School year 2014-15 saw 296 confirmed cases of bullying, while the year prior 2013-14 saw 270.
“Even though the number of reported cases increased, the number of confirmed cases didn’t go up by that much,” said Theodore “TJ” Best, the district’s anti-bullying coordinator. He attributed the increased number of reported incidents to the ease with which parents, teachers, and students are able to report incidents via the internet.
Best said the district’s anti-bullying score, an average of all district schools, improved from 54 last school year to 59 in school year 2014-15. The highest possible score is 78, said Best. He said the highest scoring elementary schools were: School 7 and 10 with scores 70 each.
Norman S. Weir and School 9 topped the list for middle schools with scores 71 and 70 respectively.
High schools with the highest anti-bullying scores were Stars Academy and School of Information Technology at Eastside High School. The former received a score of 70 while the latter received a 72.
Best said the scores are calculated based on 27 anti-bullying indicators. Each school received a score of 0-3 in each of the indicators which were then added up to reckon a total score for a particular school.
“Our goal moving forward obviously is to reduce the number of confirmed cases,” said Best. He said the district has implemented a new curriculum and is providing staff training to curb incidents of confirmed bullying.
Best presented the scores before the school board on Wednesday evening. He said the self-assessment report will be sent to the New Jersey Department of Education on September 30th, 2015.