Bullying Is Not Just  A Buzzword

“Progress, not perfection” has been the motto of Superintendent Mary Beth Jackson of the Okaloosa County School District since being elected to represent the 30,000 students and over 3,000 faculty and Bernardo, staff members.  The school system is a vital part of the community and on any given weekday, 15% of Okaloosa’s population is at one of the schools.    

“Recently an editorial was written by the Crestview News Bulletin asking whether “bullying” had become just another buzzword,” said Henry Kelley, Program Director, Office of Community Affairs.  “Bullying is defined by Florida Law and Okaloosa School Board policy as ‘systemically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees.’” 

“Bullying” is not just a buzzword, but a key concern of the school’s administration, faculty and staff.   “Inappropriate or aggressive behavior is still met with disciplinary and corrective action, even if it does not meet the state’s definition for ‘bullying,’” said Kelley. 

The state annually conducts an audit of School Board policy and procedures in order to verify the district’s compliance with state statutes.  

“In a recent report, Florida schools ranked near the top in prevention of bullying,” said Kelley.  “Does that mean we have it perfect?  No!  But we constantly work on progress.  Nearly 20 years ago our students in Baker created a video called ‘Tell Somebody.’  We have updated that video for 2015 and will show it to all 30,000 students. This video features students talking to students about how to handle situations that may arise in their schools.”

Okaloosa County School District’s results are proven in very high academic rankings in the State of Florida.  Okaloosa County placed 4th in the highest percent of “A” schools, with 36 earning that designation.  

The District also offers many specialized education programs.  Students who want to be in a medical profession should consider the SSTRIDE medical program in Crestview or the Biomedical program at Fort Walton Beach High School.  Interested in Engineering?  Crestview High School and Choctawhatchee High School have great engineering programs.  Interested in IT studies?  Check out Niceville High School.  Interested in International Baccalaureate?  Check out the program at Choctawhatchee High School.  The Choice Institute is also filled with many excellent industry certification programs.   

“Three of our high schools (Fort Walton Beach, Niceville, and Collegiate) rank in the top 75 of all high schools in Florida! Parents have great choices for educating their children in our public school system,” said Kelley.

Education must be offered in a safe environment.  “While we train our faculty and have an outstanding School Resource Officer program with the Okaloosa Sheriff’s office, at the end of the day, parental involvement is still the determining factor in student success,” continued Kelley. 

Parents and their student(s) are encouraged to view the “Tell Somebody” video together, and spend a few minutes discussing it.  The video can be viewed by clicking here.  If you do not have internet access and would like to view the video, please contact your child’s school principal to schedule a viewing. 

“On behalf of the Superintendent, School Board, and all of our district employees, I want to assure you that your school system takes bullying, and student safety, seriously, and we need your involvement as we continue to make progress towards perfection,” said Kelley.