Tag Archives: School

Dr. Edward F. Dragan, Writer of Soon to be Published Book, ‘Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know,’ Addresses the Issue of School Bullying


Lambertville, NJ (PRWEB) April 19, 2007

Dr. Edward F. Dragan education expert and founder of Education Management Consulting, LLC recognizes the importance of cooperative efforts to prevent school bullying.

“All children are entitled to courteous and respectful treatment by students and staff at school. Educators have a duty to ensure that students have a safe learning environment,” says education expert and school liability consultant Dr. Dragan.

In American schools, more than 16 percent of students say that they have been bullied by other students during the 2000-2001 school year, according to a survey funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The study appears in the April 25, 2001 Journal of the American Medical Association.

In the U.S. many states are finally recognizing the urgent need to take a firm stand against bullying. In February 2007, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously ruled students have the right to attend school without being subjected to repeated taunts from other children. The ruling makes school districts in that state responsible for stopping bias-based harassment. A school district may be found liable if it knew about a “hostile educational environment” and failed to take reasonable action to end it.

Eighteen additional states, Guam, and Puerto Rico have passed anti-bullying laws and require public schools to have an anti-bullying policy in place. These laws generally define harassment and bullying as any conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment. The list includes age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, political belief, socioeconomic status, or familial status.

According to Dr. Dragan, “The key for the protection of both the victim and the school is that the school takes affirmative action whenever there is an observation or report of bullying.”

“Schools must have clear policies and procedures and train students and staff in the detection, reporting, and prevention of bullying. No amount of laws will stop the practice of bullying. Effectiveness is achieved when students, parents, teachers, and administrators join together to confront bullying and harassment. Each must take responsibility to take part to protect students and to make schools safe.”

About:

Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D. is the founder of Education Management Consulting, LLC, providing consultation and education expert witness services to school administrators and attorneys on education-related issues including school management, safety, bullying, education law suits, and school risk assessments. His book, Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know, is scheduled for publication in 2007.

Contact Information

Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D.

Education Management Consulting, LLC

609.397.8989

http://www.edmgt.com

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Dr. Edward F. Dragan, Author of the Soon to be Released Book, ‘Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Every Parent and Teacher Should Know,’ Comments on Keeping Students Safe


Lambertville, NJ (PRWEB) August 22, 2007

Dr. Edward F. Dragan, author of the soon to be released book, Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Every Parent and Teacher Should Know, comments on keeping our students safe. School safety and liability expert, Dr. Edward F. Dragan states, “Unnecessary risks in schools must be corrected, most importantly to protect the safety of students, faculty and support staff, but also to eliminate costly litigation and settlements. Implementing regular assessments of school safety policies and procedures can greatly reduce risks.”

Dr. Dragan remarks, “All too often we hear after the fact, ‘How did this accident happen?’ or ‘Could the school have prevented it?” “Unfortunately once the accident occurs; it is too late to ask these questions, a school’s risk management plan must be proactive to be effective.”

Our nation’s schools pay millions of dollars annually in damages to school children injured in class, sexually assaulted by teachers, and harassed by fellow students. New Jersey alone faced 381 suits-more than one case a day-representing a potential liability of over 500 million dollars. This total does not include cases filed in administrative court, which typically hear special education issues. Since most cases settle privately, the general public and even some education insiders are not aware of the scope of such liability.

The following three recent instances chronicle occurrences that could have been avoided had the schools developed a risk analysis plan identifying potential safety hazards, emphasizing accountability and establishing procedures for creating and maintaining a hazard free school.

A 1.7 million dollar verdict was awarded to a third-grade student told by her teacher to return a television cart with a television on its top shelf to the library. The cart fell, causing the television to strike the student, whose injury resulted in permanent brain damage. A federal court jury decided the school was partially liable for the accident due to the student’s lack of supervision. This unfortunate incident could have been prevented if teachers and administrators had assessed the risks of allowing young children to move such equipment.

A private settlement was reached in a similar case. A board of education paid $ 850,000 to a five year old student with autism who was seriously injured when a fifty pound television fell and struck him on the head. When evidence of inadequate supervision pointed to the school’s liability the case was settled.

The coach of a girl’s track team and a student who threw his javelin one more time after the coach announced practice was over both shared payment of a $ 300,000 settlement to a student who received permanent nerve damage and facial paralysis when the javelin struck her in the face. The coach was responsible for the students while they were using potentially dangerous equipment.

Most cases of school safety violations could be prevented through practice of proactive risk management. Teachers and administrators must scrutinize their procedures, equipment use and personal practices for ways to ensure the safety of everyone concerned. Schools must follow risk management guidelines to improve overall school safety and to eliminate the high costs of accident related litigation. Although insurance companies usually pay these settlements, schools and taxpayers will ultimately have the burden of higher taxes and insurance premiums.

Dr. Dragan comments, “School administrators must develop a systematic procedure for inspecting school premises and reviewing safety procedures for evidence of potential risks. An inspection log should be established to record potential risks along with the remedial action taken to eliminate the unsafe hazard or procedure.”

In addition, Dr. Dragan suggests the following risk management guidelines to maximize school safety and security. “School administrators should assess potential risk related to all equipment in proximity or accessible to students. A safety handbook that details procedures for supervising students in all school areas should be established.”

“Administrators need to conduct in-service training and review of first-aid practices, crisis response strategies, school evacuation drills, and alternative communication methods to use, if warranted, during potential crises.”

Dr. Dragan also remarks, “Each faculty member must be aware of their specific responsibilities related to safety and should have prioritized action system available to them to effect needed safety corrections in a timely matter. Administrators need to model and emphasize personal accountability and commitment to create and maintain school safety and security procedures.”

“School administrators who demonstrate a proactive commitment to safeguarding the welfare of students, faculty members and support staff will produce safe and secure school campuses and climates which will reduce potential school liability.”

About:

Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D. is the founder of Education Management Consulting, LLC, providing consultation to school administrators and education expert witness services to attorneys on education-related issues including school management, safety, bullying, sexual harassment, child custody, and special education . His book, Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Every Parent and Teacher Should Know, is scheduled for publication in 2008.

Contact Information

Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D.

Education Management Consulting, LLC

609.397.8989

http://www.edmgt.com

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School District of Superior Expands Parent Notification Program Through SchoolMessenger Partnership

Superior, WI, and Santa Cruz, CA (PRWEB) September 4, 2007

The School District of Superior today announced that it has expanded its parent notification program for the 2007-2008 school year. The district’s goals are two-fold: To reach families quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency and to improve the overall quality and frequency of communications between its schools and the community.

By partnering with SchoolMessenger, a leading U.S. parental notification company, the district has expanded a pilot program that was put in place and tested in April. The new service allows the district to communicate quickly and effectively with parents, day or night, in any language using voice messages or email.

If an emergency occurs on one of its eight school campuses, massive calling capabilities are now in place to enable thousands of messages to be placed in a matter of minutes. For more routine attendance alerts and community outreach, school or district officials simply access a Web-based system or call a toll-free number to send families any number of personalized messages or reminders throughout the school year.

“We want the community to know that we are taking proactive measures to improve the flow of communication between our schools and home,” said Jay Mitchell, superintendent of the School District of Superior. “Studies show that when notification solutions are used in schools, parents feel more involved in their child’s education, they report improved peace of mind and attendance rates increase. In today’s connected world, parents have 24/7 access to news and information, and they expect nothing less from their local schools.”

As students bring Emergency Contact forms home this Fall, parents are encouraged to review them carefully to be sure all telephone and email information is up to date and accurate. Each family receives two emergency contacts that will be notified with school activities and alerts. Database records for each of its nearly 5,000 students are automatically, regularly updated so that if an incident occurs, the district is always emergency-ready. If at any time contact information within a family changes, parents are asked to notify the school immediately so that records can be updated.

“We want to applaud the district’s success in creating an organized, strategic program that places a clear priority on parent communications,” said Jim Duggan, Northern Regional Director for SchoolMessenger, a division of Reliance Communications. “By leveraging our notification service, which is designed exclusively for K-12 use, school administrators will save countless hours of staff time when communicating ongoing, routine alerts and events. In addition, if an emergency occurs, district officials can deliver a clear message quickly and reliably to provide valuable insight on the situation, and to dispel the spread of misinformation.”

The district’s 2007-2008 notification plan includes the following schools: Bryant Elementary, Cooper Elementary, Four Corners Elementary, Great Lakes Elementary, Lake Superior Elementary, Northern Lights Elementary, Superior Middle School and Superior High School. All personal information shared between families and the district will remain private and is protected by multiple layers of data encryption, firewalls and other security measures.

About SchoolMessenger

SchoolMessenger, a division of Reliance Communications, Inc., is a leading provider of parent notification solutions for education. Its family of products, which include desktop, server and hosted solutions, are in use in more than 6,000 districts and schools, connecting educators with millions of parents everyday. Founded in 1999, the privately-funded company is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California. For information, visit http://www.schoolmessenger.com.

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Prince George County School District Expands Parent Notification Program for 2007-2008 School Year

Prince George, VA and Santa Cruz, CA (PRWEB) September 5, 2007

The Prince George County School District today announced that it has expanded its parent notification program for the 2007-2008 school year. The district, which serves nine schools and more than 6,100 students, has two goals for the program: to reach families quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency, and to improve the overall quality and frequency of communications between its schools and the community.

In July the school board approved a contract with SchoolMessenger, a leading U.S. parental notification company, to provide ongoing communications services. As a result, the district or any individual school can communicate regularly with parents day or night, in any language, using voice messages, email or text messaging. The solution even includes a survey feature that allows officials to query families regarding key issues, and then use that insight to improve programs and services.

If an emergency occurs on any campus in the district, SchoolMessenger’s massive calling capabilities will enable thousands of messages to be placed in a matter of minutes. For more routine attendance alerts and community outreach, school or district officials simply access the Web-based service, or call a toll-free number, to send families any number of personalized messages or reminders throughout the school year.

“We want the community to know that we are taking proactive measures to improve communications between our schools and home,” said Dr. R. Francis Moore, Superintendent of Prince George County School District. “Whether we are informing parents of an open house, or alerting them to an emergency situation, we want them to rest assured that the district can reach each and every family in a timely, organized manner. In today’s connected world, with 24/7 access to news and information, I believe parents expect nothing less from their local schools.”

As students bring Emergency Contact forms home this Fall, parents are encouraged to review them carefully to be sure all telephone and email information is up to date and accurate. Two emergency contacts from each family are entered into the notification database, which is automatically, regularly updated throughout the year so that it is always emergency-ready. If at any time contact information changes, parents are advised to notify the school immediately so that records can be updated.

“We want to applaud the district’s success in creating an organized, strategic program that places a clear priority on parent communications,” said Jim Duggan, Northern Regional Director for SchoolMessenger, a division of Reliance Communications. “By leveraging our notification service, which is designed exclusively for K-12 schools, district and school administrators can save countless hours of staff time and deliver a clear, personalized message to let parents know what’s happening on their child’s campus.”

The district’s 2007-2008 emergency plan includes the following schools, located in Prince George County: David A. Harrison Elementary, North Elementary, South Elementary, L.L. Beazley Elementary, W.A. Walton Elementary, J.E. J. Moore Middle School, N.B. Clements Jr. High, Prince George High and Prince George Education Center. All personal information shared between families and the district will remain private, and is protected by multiple layers of data encryption, firewalls and other security measures.

About SchoolMessenger:

SchoolMessenger, a division of Reliance Communications, Inc., is a leading provider of parent notification solutions for education. Its family of products, which include desktop, server and hosted solutions, are in use in more than 6,000 districts and schools, connecting educators with millions of parents everyday. Founded in 1999, the privately-funded company is headquartered in Santa Cruz, California. For information, visit http://www.schoolmessenger.com.

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WiHood and Oslo School Sign ‘Letter of Intent (LOI)’ to Integrate 4th Grade’s Curriculum into WiHood’s ‘Virtual Laptop’ Service

Oslo, Norway (PRWEB) May 3, 2008

WiHood and Huseby School (Oslo, Norway) have signed a LOI (“Letter Of Intent) to evaluate and begin integrating Huseby School’s 4th grade class’s curriculum into the WiHood service. All 45 students and 4 teachers of Huseby’s 4th grade class will participate in this first-ever “virtual laptop” academic project.

With WiHood, students will be able to continue their in-class lesson at home or on any internet connected PC. “The academic continuity from classroom-to-home is seamless with WiHood” says Thomas F. Anglero, Chairman and CEO of WiHood AS. “We are honored to be cooperating with Huseby School who shares our passion to improve the education of children by providing them with WiHood, a service that protects children online and allows them to continue their classroom lesson on any internet connected PC.”

WiHood’s “virtual laptop” on a USB bracelet is portable and can be worn on the child’s wrist, folded in a pocket or a school bag. WiHood’s USB bracelet is made of non-toxic silicon so it is safe and kid-tough. WiHood’s bracelet protects children online when the parents are not home or while the child is surfing at home, a friend’s, and at school.

WiHood is based in Oslo (Norway) and was incorporated in August 2007. WiHood has been honored to be awarded funding from Innovation Norway (a division of the Norwegian government providing funding only to Norway’s most innovative companies). WiHood was founded to bridge the digital-divide while protecting children online using Web 2.0 innovations (Web Services and Cloud Computing Technologies). Additional information can be found at http://www.WiHood.com.

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New Web-based Vorex Online Survey 1.4 Software Bridges Gap in Communication Between School Systems, Students and Parents

Dallas, Texas (PRWEB) August 12, 2008

Vorex, Inc., a leading provider of web-based software tools to increase productivity and efficiency, has released Vorex Online Survey V. 1.4 for both public and private K-12 school systems as well as higher education facilities such as Universities, vocational Universities, community colleges, liberal arts colleges, technical colleges and career colleges. The new web-based Vorex Online Survey software provides educators and administrators with the ability to easily create and distribute professional-grade, fully customized online surveys and forms in a cost-effective manner.

“We are extremely pleased to unveil Vorex Online Survey software to school educators and administrators to better close the gap in communication between the schools and their student body – as well as effectively reach parents,” said Mike Salem, President of Vorex, Inc. “Our new SaaS solution is the most cost-effective and highly efficient method of issuing surveys and obtaining instantaneous results and accurate information. We are providing a true solution for school systems seeking to interact with both parents and students in a paperless, eco-friendly format,” concluded Salem.

The robust functionality of the new Vorex Online Survey software is illustrated by the following features:

Absolutely no additional software, hardware, or computer programming knowledge is needed to use Vorex Online Survey — it runs as a software-as-a-service online.

Choose from 17 different question types ranging from check-boxes, yes/no answers, rating scales and comment fields.

The built-in Spell Check feature ensures a professional presentation.

Auto-skip questions based on respondents’ answers.

Automatically inserts respondent’s answer into subsequent questions.

The survey can expire on a specified date or after a pre-determined number of responses are received.

Allows information sharing with multiple co-workers or different school departments.

Effectively organizes results — create one or hundreds of customized folders to store results.

Easily exports a survey and accompanying results into different formats such as Excel, Word, HTML, or PDF document.

Control access to the survey with optional password requirements.

Post survey results on a secure, password protected web site.

For schools that do not have a web site, or have a limited access web site, Vorex provides a free portal web site that is fully maintained. School educators and administrators have full access to the provided portal web site. They may then direct students or parents to go directly to the portal where survey respondents will enter a unique code for each survey – thereby immediately directing the respondent to the related survey.

As high school teacher Reem Khodr states, “A solution that truly bridges the gap between the school and students — as well as parents — has been long overdue. Finally with Vorex Online Survey, school systems can engage parents regarding their child’s education, gather feedback from students, or collect votes for budget allocations or school elections. School systems will surely gain invaluable insight using the accurate and up-to-date information this web-based survey tool provides,” concluded Khodr.

Visit http://www.vorexsurvey.com/education_institutions/ for more information.

About Vorex, Inc.

Founded in August 2007, Vorex, Inc. is headquartered in Dallas, Texas and is a leading developer of advanced user-friendly online solutions for businesses. The company strives to provide affordable solutions that will increases both organizations and corporations’ productivity and profitability.

Media Contact:

Mike Salem, President

Vorex, Inc.

Tel. 214.621.8324

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Enjoy Life


CHICAGO (PRWEB) September 10, 2008

Today’s meeting, held by the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA, was a Request for Public Comments for Use in Preparing for 2009 Reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Programs, which includes the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program; and the Child and Adult Care Food Program, which support nutritious meals and snacks served to children in schools, child care institutions and afterschool care programs.

Speaking on behalf of the American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) and Enjoy Life Foods, Mandell said, “On behalf of the children, their parents and caregivers that are currently excluded from receiving program benefits, I strongly urge the USDA to make the necessary changes to the National School Lunch Program to ensure that ALL eligible students can benefit from this important, federally assisted meal program.”

Mandell supported his comments by citing the growing number of children affected by Celiac Disease, food allergies, food intolerances and autism:

Celiac Disease, is the world’s most common genetic auto-immune disease, and is estimated to affect at least 1% of the populationi. At this time, the only known treatment for Celiac Disease is strict adherence to a gluten-free diet for life (gluten is the protein that is found in wheat, barely and rye). Food allergies are estimated to affect 6 to 8% of children and 3 to 4% of adultsii, and diagnoses are on the rise. For the over 12 million Americans with food allergies, symptoms can range from mild (such as gastrointestinal discomfort) to life threatening (due to anaphylactic shock). Another 30 million Americans have food intolerancesiii that cause them to avoid certain foods. And finally, one in 150 children is affected by autismiv which can be effectively managed in some cases by following a diet free of gluten and casein (the protein found in dairy). Carol McCarthy Shilson, Executive Director of the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center and ACDA member, also provided comments on behalf of Stefano Guandalini, M.D., the Center’s founder and medical director. “It is not right that children with Celiac Disease should be denied a safe meal or given food that is nutritionally inadequate. Surely we cannot expect our children to learn and thrive with such conditions. It is our duty to see that all children are provided with a nutritious and safe meal at school,” Guandalini commented.

Shilson also presented results from a recent survey by the ACDA, which revealed that among 2,229 parents of children with Celiac Disease, only 111 were able to get a gluten-free lunch at school. The others had to pack a lunch or go without, according to the ACDA survey.

About ACDA

The American Celiac Disease Alliance (ACDA) began to take shape in early 2003 when an ad hoc group of 15 leaders in the celiac community came together to help persuade Congress to require food labels to include information about allergens. The group’s efforts were instrumental in the passage of landmark legislation, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act. The non-profit organization provides leadership on policy issues affecting the lives of individuals with celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder affecting children and adults. The ACDA is recognized internationally for its role in advocating on behalf of all segments of the celiac community.

About Enjoy Life Foods

Enjoy Life Natural Brands, LLC (d/b/a Enjoy Life Foods, LLC (ELF)) was founded in 2001 with the mission of making great-tasting allergy-friendly foods that most everyone can eat freely. The company launched the Enjoy Life brand in 2002 with a broad product line that is free of the eight most common allergens and gluten-free. To meet the needs of a rapidly growing consumer base, in 2004 the company acquired Perky’s, a line of gluten- and nut-free cereals. Today, ELF offers 29 different Enjoy Life and Perky’s products that are sold in natural food and select grocery stores throughout the United States and Canada. Visit http://www.enjoylifefoods.com and http://www.perkysnaturalfoods.com for store locations and more. In September 2008, Enjoy Life Foods was named for the second consecutive year to Inc. 500 list of the fastest growing privately held businesses in the U.S. For more information, visit http://www.enjoylifenb.com.

i Dr. Stefano Guandalini, University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center

ii FAAN

iii National Institutes of Health

iv Autism Society of America







PC Pandora Heads “Back to School” with Internet Safety and PD Pandora


San Diego, CA (PRWEB) September 1, 2009

It’s September and that means back to school for kids across the country. And with Internet safety and cyberbullying at the top of the list of today’s parenting concerns, Pandora Corp., makers of PC Pandora computer monitoring software, is encouraging parents to head ‘back to school’ as well.

Created in association with nationally recognized child advocate, Maureen Flatley, and her team at Flatley McNeil and Associates, the PD Pandora Internet Safety Symposium is available to anyone in need of materials to educate parents and discuss online safety in their local community.

“Right now is the perfect time for educators to get parents together and put this issue on the table,” says Flatley. “Not only do kids have an excuse to be on the computer all the time again – for schoolwork – but we are going to see a new wave of children using the internet for the first time.”

Internet safety remains a top concern, and rightly so. With seemingly no restrictions, we let our children use a machine that connects them to the entire world – and, more importantly, connects the entire world to them. From Internet predators to thieves and cyberbullies to illegal downloads to kids themselves doing na

New York Medical Malpractice Lawyer Warns School Nurses to Beware of Legal Consequences for Vaccinating Students Without Parental Consent


New York, NY (PRWEB) November 23, 2009

The legal terms assault and battery pop up in city tabloids and cops and robbers TV programs all the time. But lately these familiar phrases could just as easily apply to the actions of some New York City elementary schools, and their school nurses, in the wake of the current swine flu pandemic sweeping the country, according to Richard Gurfein, a New York medical malpractice attorney and senior partner in the New York personal injury law firm of Gurfein Douglas, LLP.

Despite claims, Gurfein said, by city health officials stressing the safety of the H1N1 vaccine, and the rapidly growing spread of the disease in city schools (hospitalizations for H1N1 have tripled in New York State in the past three weeks) the law requires parental consent before a school is permitted to give the swine flu vaccine to a student.

According to recent media reports, school nurses mistakenly gave the swine flu vaccine to two students whose parents didnt sign up for it, including a Brooklyn girl with epilepsy who wound up in the hospital after getting the shot.

Any unlawful touching, Gurfein explained, or unauthorized administration of medical care not in an emergency situation is a battery, a legal term for an assault. A school district cannot unilaterally administer vaccinations without parental consent, in writing.

Gurfein explained that on the issue of liability, it wouldnt matter if the child got sick or not from the vaccination.

If there is a battery, Gurfein said (medicine given to a child without an emergency situation, or parental consent), by law the child is entitled to compensatory damages.

The measure of damages is another issue, he added. If there was no ill effect from the vaccination, the damages would be relatively small. If the child became ill, the amount of the damages would go up considerably. Sadly, if the child dies, that wrongful death case would have almost no value because of existing arcane laws in New York State that place little monetary value on the life of a child.

Gurfein said there are exceptions as to when schools are allowed to intervene. For example, in the event of an emergency, schools would be able to render medical care to the student since they are acting in loco parentis while a child is in their care.

But no court, he said, would ever accept the argument that vaccination without consent is an emergency, since the simple alternative is to refuse the child access to the school if parents dont comply with the schools wishes regarding vaccination.

Vaccinating a child without parental consent, Gurfein explained, is a tort that has a one-year statute of limitations. But because the school is part of the City, a parent only has 90 days from the time of the battery to file a Notice of Claim. He said, ninety days does not mean three months. It means ninety days.

Since a battery falls under the category of an intentional tort, Gurfein explained, it also cannot be insured against by the school, or the school nurse. In these situations, the nurse who gave the child the shot, and the school district as her employer assuming the nurse was acting within the course and scope of his or her employment would have to pay any judgment.

Gurfein advises parents to remember that municipalities and their school districts are heavily protected against lawsuits. He instructs parents of children who have been victims of a battery to contact a New York personal injury lawyer who is familiar with both negligence and medical malpractice claims.

Since a school, Gurfein said, is a department, or arm, of a municipality, a lawsuit must be commenced within a year and ninety days from the time of the battery, after having filed a timely Notice of Claim.

Such a lawsuit, he added, typically takes longer to pursue than an average auto case because the City of New York has so many lawsuits it just doesnt have the manpower to process all of them. As with any other personal injury claim, the damages would be determined by a jury. All costs to litigate the case are advanced by the lawyer, not the client. The lawyer only gets those costs reimbursed, and compensated for his, or her, services, if he or she wins the case.

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Bonita Springs Charter School Students Decide to Change the World


Bonita Springs, Fla. (Vocus) December 8, 2009

It happens every day, in every classroom, in every city, in every country in the entire world. Bullying. Although its not a new concept, bullying has taken on an alarming level of seriousness that can lead to devastating outcomes. In todays world, bully targets are just as apt to take their own life as someone elses as a result of bullying. Few understand this better than the mother of teen Jeffrey Johnston who successfully lobbied for the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up For All Students Act, which mandates schools enact anti-bullying policies and programs to help protect students from bullying. Johnston took his own life after being cyber-bullied. A program at Bonita Springs Charter School is taking the challenge to eliminate bullying just as seriously one student at a time.

Jeffs Law, which it is commonly called, goes hand-in-hand with a curriculum-based character education program adopted last year by Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) called STRIVE. STRIVE is a program created by the Clarion Council that is being implemented as a pilot program with all CSUSA schools. STRIVE 65 is a list of traits that help build moral and performance character as well as encourage active citizenship. STRIVE 65s #18 reminds students to Help the person others are bullying or being mean to.

This STRIVE trait is the foundation of a program developed by Robert Barnes, the guidance counselor at Bonita Springs Charter School. His program called What if uses trait #18 as its basis. The concept asks, What if you could change the world and be the one person who saves a student from making a life altering decision.

Each year we survey the students in our middle school to find out what they believe should be the focus of our bullying program, says Barnes. This year, the overwhelming response was to address cyber-bullying and sexting. Were now focusing on those two bullying behaviors and have been working on the elimination of these demeaning practices from the lives of middle-schoolers.

Cyber-bullying occurs when a child is targeted, harassed, humiliated or embarrassed by someone using interactive or digital technologies or cell phones. Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily through cell phones. Both forms of bullying can have very damaging effects on children.

The What if? program empowers students to use the time they have in school to help build the self esteem of others. It suggests that students identify those students who are the target of bullies and make an effort to be kind to them even if it means just using their name when addressing them in the hall, making eye contact with them and smiling or sitting with them at lunch. According to Barnes, since it takes two people to engage in a bullying situation the target and the bully its easier to take the target out of the equation.

Bullies want power, says Barnes. Their efforts are only effective if the victim is offended or hurt by their words. Bullies target those with low self esteem who will believe their taunts. So if the rest of the students help build their peers self esteem, the bullies have fewer and fewer targets.

The program seems to be working well. Last year, prior to the advent of this program, Barnes received four to five bully reports per week. So far this year, there has been only one complaint that needed to be resolved by disciplinary action and one other that was resolved by the students in a peaceful manner. He is greatly encouraged by the dramatic decline in referrals.

I think there is a combination of the students helping each other and a better understanding of the definition of bullying that is helping to decrease those numbers, adds Barnes. Its so gratifying to see students looking out for each other. No one wants to be bullied and everyone can relate to being a target. Giving these students the tools they need to help stop this trend empowers them to truly believe they can change the world.

Bonita Springs Charter School is part of the Charter Schools USA Inc. (CSUSA) family of schools. CSUSA is one of the nations leading charter school management companies, serving kindergarten through 12th grade. CSUSA provides comprehensive management services to corporations, government entities and non-profit organizations. CSUSA schools are individually developed to meet the unique needs and requirements of the community. CSUSA educational advantages include integrated technology, parental involvement contracts, student uniforms, enforced discipline policies, highly qualified and motivated staff, community focus and high academic performance.

Enrollment for Bonita Springs Charter School is underway; interested parents can register their child online at http://www.bonitaspringscharter.org. For additional information, contact Charter Schools USA at 1-866-KIDSUSA or visit the corporate Web site at http://www.charterschoolsusa.com .

Media Contacts:

Deborah Tracy Bonita Springs Charter School Principal or

Robert Barnes Bonita Spring Charter School Guidance Counselor

Ofc: 239- 992-6932

Colleen Reynolds, APR, president and owner of Edge Communications

Ofc: 239-437-0040; Cell: 239-849-6400; Fax: 239-437-0170

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