A survey of school systems in the metro Atlanta by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution found 1,900 instances of bullying were reported in the 2009-2010 school year. Of those instances, only 30 students were expelled, sent to alternative schools or placed in other classes as the law requires in documented cases of bullying. DeKalb County schools led the list with 696 incidents of bullying, but did not record how many students faced disciplinary action. But Quentin Fretwell, director of student relations in DeKalb, said the system takes bullying seriously. The Georgia Legislature approved legislation this year that tightens the state bullying law. Public school systems across Georgia have until Aug. 1 to adopt policies that meet the requirements of Georgia's revised bullying law.
And if DeKalb being the worst isn't bad enough, the following facts are just as bothersome:
- Very few students were disciplined according to the law.
- Quentin Fretwell says one thing, but the district obviously is doing something different.
- DeKalb didn't document (or wasn't transparent about) how many students were disciplined.
Jaheem’s death prompted Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Atlanta, to sponsor amendments to the state’s bullying law. Effective in January, the revised law requires the state Department of Education to develop a bullying policy that local school systems can use as a model.===
The former statute, said Jacobs, didn’t adequately define bullying, didn’t address cyber-bullying and applied only to grades 6-12, overlooking about half the state’s students — those in grades k-5. Jaheem, Jacobs noted, was in the fifth grade.
AJC's BULLYING STATISTICS
Unless otherwise noted, all data came from the 2009-2010 school year. The first number represents bullying cases; the second depicts the number of students transferred to alternative schools, expelled or offered some other alternative:
- Atlanta: 351; 5
- Cherokee County: 42; 5
- Clayton County: 520; 7
- Cobb County: 166; 0*
- Decatur: 0; 0
- DeKalb County: 696; N/A **
- Fulton County: 131; 5
- Marietta: 59; 0
*Based on 2008-09 academic year
**The district does not keep records of transfers or disciplinary actions
For our blog post with information on bullying and places to get help, click here.