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Sleepy Hollow Schools Don't See Widespread Bullying

SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. – Bullying has not been documented as a major issue throughout the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, school officials said during a recent report on student responsibility and behaviors.

School officials have tracked the top misbehaviors in Washington Irving Intermediate School, Sleepy Hollow Middle School and Sleepy Hollow High School, but found that bullying is not among them.

“This says to me that these programs that were put in place through the primary grades and through the middle school are working,” school board member Vincent Nadile said.

Assistant principals at all three schools presented reports on student responsibility programs and how school officials were working to improve behavior during Tuesday's board of education meeting. Although each official noted problem areas in each school, the majority of percentages of misbehaving students was less than 5 to 10 percent.

Washington Irving officials noted they're seeing students have trouble with unkindness to others, teasing and physical contact. Assistant Principal Michael Scarantino noted most of these problem areas stem from a communication issue that are worked through with conversations about talking in an appropriate manner.

“We find that to be sort of a developmental piece for students at the 3,4,5 band,” he said. “They're still figuring out the social complexity of conversation and speaking to one another, and they tend to sort of go to the words they think are going to help them out in a situation and sometime it's a hurtful word.”

Scarantino noted that problems with physical contact were mostly related to over-competitive students at recess. He said the school works to help them learn sportsmanship during recess and physical education classes.

At the middle school level, Assistant Principal Carol Quinones-Smith explained that officials see more students not coming to school, not following directions and insubordination rather than bullying. But if bullying occurs, Quinones-Smith and Principal Elizabeth Lopez said the school takes it seriously. A bullying program was implemented two years, Lopez noted.

“If those issues come up, they are addressed immediately with students, with parents, with team members, with support staff and that's very effective,” Quinones-Smith said.

Quinones-Smith said the middle school has seen an increase in students following school rules, attending class, arriving on time and not getting into physical altercations. She attributed the increases, all of which were more than 1 percent, to the character programs that have been put in place.

Sleepy Hollow High School Assistant Principal Anthony Baxter noted that his school has seen several huge increases in school rules compliance, up 22 percent from last year, and students arriving on time to school, up 14 percent from last year. Daily attendance numbers and students not getting physical have also increased.

“But teenagers, as they are, will sometimes test boundaries and test the envelope,” he said, noting that more students are cited for cutting class, tardiness, not following directions and ignoring the dress code. In each case, Baxter noted the school has “designed a series of interventions that really look to get to the heart of the matter and not assigning consequences for the sake of consequences.”

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