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Shelbyville Central Schools board members, concerned residents talk about bullying following board meeting

Following a tense discussion period and the completion of the Shelbyville Central Schools board meeting Wednesday night, school board members and community members frustrated with a perceived increase in bullying within the school system took more than an hour to discuss the issue (photo).

A disgruntled group of more than two dozen people came to the board meeting Wednesday to discuss bullying. They were not afforded the opportunity to speak during the meeting that lasted approximately 25 minutes.

School board president Curt Johnson, a Shelbyville attorney, cited SCS policy on public comments at school board meetings. All comments are limited to agenda items for that particular meeting.

That left many frustrated with the board’s appearance to not want to talk about bullying. Johnson did not think it was appropriate to have the discussion on the same day that Shelbyville Middle School eighth-grader Violet Kreider was laid to rest following her death last week.

Online discussion has linked Kreider’s death to bullying at SMS, but that has not been confirmed publicly. In a statement released by SCS Superintendent Dr. Matt Vance, he affirmed, “SCS takes its anti-bullying obligations very seriously. There were no documented bullying claims brought to the attention of the school in relation to this tragedy. All bullying claims are investigated in accordance with the schools Anti-Bullying Policy.”

Vance confirmed again Wednesday night there were no reports filed on Kreider’s behalf with regard to bullying at SMS.

Johnson reiterated Thursday afternoon, he was only following board policy when limiting public commentary.

“Our policy limits public comments to agenda items,” he said. “We all appreciated the sensitive nature of the situation and emotions are high.”

Johnson confirmed there were inquiries to be placed on Wednesday’s agenda, which must be made public prior to the meeting occurring, but those inquiries did not occur within the stated timeline in the policy.

While not yet official, Johnson wanted to add that a public meeting is being formulated for later this month to discuss the issue. Details are not yet finalized as to the date, time of meeting and venue.

“We are not going to hide and ignore this thing,” said Johnson, who is in his second year as board president.

Following the conclusion of the board meeting Wednesday, board members made themselves available to talk with anyone still at the meeting.

“I thought it was constructive dialogue (after the meeting),” said Johnson.

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