This piece from Supt. Christina M. Kishimoto ran in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser on Sept. 19, 2018.
It should go without saying that bullying is not tolerated in an organization or in a community dedicated to educating healthy and joyful lifelong learners who contribute meaningfully to our communities.
But to be explicitly clear: Bullying of any kind is not acceptable in Hawai‘i public schools.
It runs contrary to everything we stand for as a public education system that’s grounded in respect, aloha and community. It has no place within Nā Hopena A‘o, our department-wide framework of outcomes that reflects our core values and beliefs of strengthening sense of place, belonging, responsibility and excellence in ourselves, students and the broader community.
Everyone — from students to parents to teachers, school leaders and community stakeholders — has a role to play in bullying prevention and response in an effort to promote a culture of respect, responsibility and resiliency.
We cannot afford to mishandle this shared responsibility.
For our part, we — the Hawai‘i State Department of Education (HIDOE) administration, the Board of Education, teachers and staff — remain as committed as ever to providing a safe learning environment for all of our students. This includes a longstanding commitment to be highly responsive to all student misconduct and to proactively educate our students and staff on effective behavior interventions and peer-to-peer supports.
Part of this effort involves having clear internal processes that are routinely reviewed, continuing to provide critical training for those closest to our students, and seeking out opportunities to continuously improve.
One of those opportunities we will soon deploy is an anti-bullying smartphone app designed to improve and strengthen responsiveness through options for confidential reporting. We committed last spring to collect student feedback on usability before we move ahead with rolling out the app.
As part of our effort to empower schools to implement strategies that work best for their communities, our schools promote strong anti-bullying cultures through a variety of programs, including peer mediation and social emotional learning.
We fully recognize the need for continuous improvement, especially in an area as important as student safety. However, rather than assigning blame to others, what is truly needed is for everyone to ask the hard question: What else do we need to do to ensure a safer learning environment both inside our schools and in the community at large? And then act upon it.
We are prepared and committed to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of our keiki. Our students deserve nothing less. Our educators believe in nothing less.