According to StopBullying.gov, about 20% of students from ages 12 to 18 have experienced bullying nationwide. Although all states have enacted laws to address the issue, bullying remains a common phenomenon in many schools in the United States.
Many people believe that the school’s culture is one of the primary factors that influence the prevalence of this menace. As such, it is always a relief to see more schools taking a strong and unwavering stance against bullying at all costs.
To this end, a New Hampshire High School cheerleading program has been suspended following allegations of “a toxic and pervasive culture of bullying, harassment, and discrimination.”
Addressing the community in a letter dated Friday, Daniel Black, the Londonderry NH School District Superintendent, stated the school administration and board were in full agreement with the decision. He also mentioned that the board will “re-evaluate the program’s standing for the remainder of the season” on September 23.
According to Black, school authorities have not found criminal evidence to prove the bullying accusations in the cheerleading program. However, the halt will give them enough time to hire a private investigator to dig further into the allegations.
The cheerleading coach staff have been placed on paid administrative leave for the duration of the suspension. “If the investigation concludes that misconduct has occurred, administration will address that misconduct through typical disciplinary channels,” Black said.
Black also had a message for members of the community. He advised them not to frustrate the investigation by peddling rumors or engaging in speculations. The community was also encouraged to report any case of student bullying to the appropriate administrator to ensure that they are addressed properly.
Continuing, the school superintendent wrote that, “while your student’s conduct in school matters, please also be mindful of their conduct on the internet. Board Policy JICK extends to cyberbullying, and administration will address those allegations through its typical process.”
Black didn’t also fail to mention that it was a privilege and not a right for the students to participate in extracurricular activities.
In his words, “fundamentally, extra-curricular activities are an extension of a rigorous program of academic instruction in Londonderry…the educational component of these extra-curriculars cannot be put aside. When we receive allegations that a program’s overall culture is perpetuating mistreatment of students, we must act swiftly.” He concluded the letter by stating how well he hoped that the issues would be resolved speedily.
Meanwhile, Londonderry police captain Patrick Cheetham has stated that there is no open investigation on the matter even though the department is aware of the press release.
Londonderry High School’s mission statement on its official website states that the institution “provides a safe and nurturing environment with varied opportunities promoting good character, academic excellence, and responsible citizenship necessary for future success in the local and global community.” The school has also written it expects its students to “model ethical and lawful behavior as responsible and accountable citizens,” and “develop positive relationships, demonstrate tolerance, and respect diversity.”
We hope that it is able to live up to its goals of producing morally upright students.