Chichester School District responds to allegations from parents of an increase in bullying, fights

A local school district is responding to accusations from parents who say a disturbing uptick in bullying and fights have them worried about their children's safety. 

Just days into the new school year, videos of brutal beat downs at Chichester High School have been posted to social media. One of the recordings shows a 9th grader being pummeled on the school bus, other fights have erupted inside school stairwells and classrooms. 

One mother who spoke to FOX 29 claimed that both of her daughters were being bullied. She said every day her daughter needs to request a ‘Flash Pass’ to raise in the classroom when she's getting bullied.

Jennifer Frazier, a mother of two at Chichester High School, told FOX 29 that her daughters are currently being bullied by classmates. The torment is so bad that the girls say they're afraid to go to school. 

She said every day her daughter needs to request a ‘Flash Pass’ to raise in the classroom when she's getting bullied. Frazier believes that the school's lackluster remedy to fight the bullying being inflicted on her daughter could lead to more problems. 

The district's superintendent refused to speak to FOX 29 after a Chichester School Board meeting on Tuesday that mainly focused on the topic of school safety. Days later, the district responded, saying they are aware of the videos circulating and claimed many are not from this year. 

Despite the turmoil, school leadership and students told FOX 29 that they believe schools in the district are safe. 

It seemed like all these fights occurred this year which was not fair. After COVID some students had a difficult time adjusting. we had lower incidents before covid. we had an uptick last year but we have policies and procedures in place like therapists and things like that

District officials say students who violate the district's policies regarding bullying, harassment, and violence will be held accountable and punished. Chichester High School shared several policy initiatives to ensure school safety that were included in a statement:

Goal: Ensure a safe and positive educational experience for all students. 

  1. Students in assigned and supervised areas at all times
  2. Monitor morning pre-class areas, hallways, lunches in our cafe, dismissal areas with as many staff as possible
  3. Teach expectations consistently with HR lessons, live video events, safety drills (fire drills, armed intruder drills, etc.)
  4. Admin/Guidance/Social Worker conduct student outreach including Meditations/peer meditations Parent contacts/parent meetings Student group meetings
  5. Meditations/peer meditations
  6. Parent contacts/parent meetings
  7. Student group meetings
  8. Bullying/Cyberbullying policy which is progressive Student counseling  Can progress to building-level consequences Restorative counseling  Outside counseling Referral to police, placements
  9. Student counseling 
  10. Can progress to building-level consequences
  11. Restorative counseling 
  12. Outside counseling
  13. Referral to police, placements
  14. Safe 2 Say – tip line – see something-say something
  15. Campus wide discipline plan Progressive also Building level consequences Exclusion from school  3 alternative ed in-house programs, including a cyber-school option Outside placements Expulsion
  16. Progressive also
  17. Building level consequences
  18. Exclusion from school 
  19. 3 alternative ed in-house programs, including a cyber-school option
  20. Outside placements
  21. Expulsion
  22. Make a team of our kids, our parents, and our staff: focus on academics and experiences
  23. Full-time SRO from Upper Chichester Police Department on staff.

The student service department has worked to be proactive in supporting our students with behavioral and mental health concerns. To this end, we have added the support of social workers, one full-time and one part-time, a full-time school based mental health counselor, an Administrator for Restorative Practices, professional development focused on social emotional learning and equity and diversity, all of our schools have state recognized positive behavior intervention and support programs in place, and last shool year we were involved in a mental health study with Penn Medicine that screened and support struggling HS students. Our Board recently approved a policy on therapy animals, so our plan is to have trained therapy dogs available for students who are struggling emotionally. All of this is in addition to our contingent of school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists that have been in place at each school to support our students. 

To conclude we understand that all point of view are difficult to be heard in a condensed story on the 10 O'Clock News, but we felt compelled to set the record straight, and to make sure the public was aware that this behavior is not an everyday experience. Bullying, harassment and violence of any means is not acceptable and not tolerated. Students who continue to violate our district policies will be held accountable and punished within the confines or the law. The district welcomes and appreciates the feedback from the community and will continue to strive to provide the best educational experience for our students and their families.