EDITORIAL: School bullying

The Clark County School District talks tough when it comes to bullying but, in at least two cases, did little to nothing to back up that bluster.

That had devastating consequences for students — but no consequences for the teachers and administrators who failed to protect them. Like bullying itself, that’s unacceptable.

A recent student suicide and a separate lawsuit exposed a lack of accountability within the school district when it comes to enforcement of anti-bullying policies. Hailee Lamberth, a 13-year-old student at Henderson’s White Middle School, killed herself in December after being harassed on campus. The school district failed to notify her father of the bullying, which had been investigated and confirmed, and didn’t disclose it even after her death. Her grieving father, Jason Lamberth, then met resistance from the system in getting answers. A lawsuit filed this month alleges educators at Henderson’s Greenspun Middle School were similarly unresponsive to the bullying of two boys.

Superintendent Pat Skorkowsky formed a task force in response to Hailee Lamberth’s suicide — after Mr. Lamberth went public with his outrage. Last week, the task force reported that the system and the state have the protocols in place to investigate, report and discipline bullies, but school employees don’t follow them well enough.

Well-conceived and well-written policies backed by the best intentions do no good if they’re ignored. In fact, large organizations go to the trouble of writing detailed policies precisely because great harm and sizable liabilities can result when they aren’t followed.

“The accountability of administrators is the issue,” said Mr. Lamberth, who wants consequences created for school staff who fail to report or respond to bullying. The school district has created more tough anti-bullying recommendations and promised to put them in place immediately, but perhaps Mr. Skorkowsky should focus on making sure school administrators understand and can comply with existing polices first.

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