Back to School: How districts are handling bullying as students return for face-to-face instruction

Local News

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — School is back in session and while the pandemic caused many students to be stuck at home, now with the return of in-person instruction comes the possibility of other school issues, bullying.

“The teacher kind of knows what to look for now in the student before they speak up,” said Orlando Noyola, Assistant Superintendent with Pharr-San Juan Alamo ISD when speaking about taking an active approach when it comes to bullying. He adds that their counselors are trained and ready to handle these situations. 

“Are they quiet? Are they by themselves? Do they get in a corner by themselves? Hey, why aren’t you over here?” Noyola said those are some signs both teachers and parents should be looking out for. 

In situations where a student comes forward and said they are being bullied, under Texas law also known as ‘David’s Law’, school districts need to investigate all bullying incidents.

“With any investigation it’s important to get that evidence so there are interviews that are conducted,” said Sylvia Gamboa, Director of Guidance and Counseling for Harlingen CISD.

Gamboa said when they take on any bullying investigation, the process involves speaking with both the victim and the perpetrator to ensure both sides are being heard.

“Speaking to not only students but anybody who may have witnessed the bullying in addition to that communication with the parents it’s very important for them to gather as much information as possible,” said Gamboa.  

Once the investigation is conducted and they determine whether it was a bullying case, districts determine the consequences.

“We have to remove you from this campus and have you go to another campus because that’s how the law states it and that’s the process we’re supposed to be taking,” said Noyola.

If a parent suspects their child is being bullied, both Noyola and Gamboa share that communicating with your child could help determine what is going on.

“A lot of times children don’t report bullying because they may fear retaliation, so in addition to parents communicating with their children it’s important to look for signs of bullying,” said Gamboa.  

There are anonymous resources for students to report bullying such as Stop It Solutions. Parents are encouraged to talk to their school district about the resources they offer when dealing with bullying incidents now that school is back in session. 

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