Natomas Candidates On Anti-Bullying Measures


This week’s question sent to us by a Natomas resident is particularly timely in light of recent incidents of young people committing suicide after being bullied by their peers. The issue of cyber bullying came to roost here in Natomas during the 2009-10 school year when “sex lists” were circulated online, printed and posted by students at two different Natomas Unified School District campuses.
THE NATOMAS BUZZ asked the six candidates for school board, “Do you support district wide anti-bullying policies and the formation of student groups for at-risk youth such as Gay Straight Alliance clubs?” Here are the answers we received, in the order they were submitted. Click here for previous entries in this series.

I read and support the district’s anti/cyber bullying policies. In comparison to other districts the policy is well defined and includes a process that school leaders can use to resolve issues related to bullying.

However, when school leaders had an opportunity to follow this policy regarding the “Sex List” not all followed. When a new “Sex List” appeared on the walls of Natomas Middle School leaders reacted slowly. Parents, whose children were named, demanded that the school do something and eventually the school leadership responded by following board policy to resolve the issue. As a result of the delay in response time, parents lost confidence in school leadership. A good example of the proper response occurred with Inderkum High School who responded quickly, issued a warning to all students, and initiated an investigation that quickly led to uncovering a suspect attending another high school.

As a board member I will improve the community’s confidence in our schools by enacting strong policies that lead to the development of training programs for our school leaders.

I support student groups like the Gay Straight Alliance. However, the at-risk label in the question troubles me because not all students in Gay Straight clubs are at-risk. At risk in the educational sense refers to students who are suicidal, abuse drugs or alcohol, are personally abused, fails to attend school or are disadvantaged. Students in Gay Straight Alliances may not be involved in these behaviors and therefore are not educationally at-risk.


I support the district’s policies as they relate to bullying and cyberbullying. Reading the literature, I have discovered that nearly one in three students in our high schools are involved in some form of bullying. Students who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are 63 percent more likely to be bullied, which also makes them most likely to miss school, become aggressive and/or have psychological problems. What most astounded me was that bullying never stops and can continue after high school and into the workplace. The consequences of bullying are detrimental to both sides, the bullies end up lacking the ability to self regulate and therefore are more likely to get into trouble with the law.

A very special thanks to C.E. White, who clarified the use of the word at-risk as it referred to students in Gay Straight Alliances. I too believe that students in Gay Straight clubs should never be labeled at-risk.

I understand the goal of most, if not all, Gay Straight Alliances is to make their school community safe and welcoming to all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. In California there are over 762 Gay Straight Alliances registered representing more than 50 percent of high schools. With all of the good work these alliances do it is hard not to support them. As a board member I would continue to advocate that our extra-curricular programs are inclusive of all students regardless of color, creed, gender religion or sexual orientation.


Beginning with Tinker v. Des Moines, the courts have consistently ruled in favor of protecting the First Amendment right of students to free speech in public schools. In Gay-Straight Alliance of Okeechobee High School v. School Board of Okeechobee County, presiding Judge K. Michael Moore wrote that “students do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.” I concur with Judge Moore, and I will firmly defend the right of every Natomas student to free speech. Natomas Unified has several Gay Straight Alliance clubs, including chapters at Natomas High School, Inderkum High School and NP3. Students have also formed Black Student Unions, art clubs, language clubs and political clubs. Natomas Unified boasts the only middle school chapter of the National Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán in the entire United States! These are all examples of students forming clubs that address specific themes.

Bullying is a tragic phenomenon which includes verbal, psychological and physical harassment. This is a real and continuing problem in our district, and across the country. Teachers should be trained to recognize bullying, and parents should train their children to be good neighbors.

Our district must not ignore our bullied students! We should discipline bullies and do what we can to protect at-risk youth. We must hold our administration accountable to make sure that bullying is not tolerated. Working together as a community, I know we can make progress on this issue.


In order to curb bullying and other similarly problematic behaviors, it’s first important to acknowledge that this problem is not limited to the schools. Bullying is a community problem and the community needs to be involved in the solutions. So while I would support anti-bullying policies, I would only do so if the formation of them went beyond discipline but involved stakeholder engagement and education on parents.

Anti-bullying policies need not be created overnight in a knee-jerk reaction to what is happening nationally. We must remember that the interpretation of what bullying is differs depending on the person, so a one-size fit-all policy will not work. Anti-bullying policies should be created by a committee that represents Natomas; students, teachers, parents, community organizers and business leaders for example. This committee would define, what is bullying in respect to our community, formulate policies on prevention, discipline, and education. These policies will take a couple of months to create, but once the policies are adopted by the board we would be able to move forward as a community that agrees and stands behind the policies.      

Student groups like a Gay/Straight Alliance, Black Student Union, Asian Student Alliance, as-well-as religious student groups that represent many of the world religions that our Natomas community shares, are formed to facilitate communication between marginalized and majority groups are a great way to deter bullying and promote understanding. The school district should be actively involved in eradicating stereotypes and embracing diversity.


I helped develop the district’s anti-harassment and tolerance policies, including support for the formation of student groups that promote tolerance and peaceful resolution of differences. I have also support training student conflict resolution teams for peer-to-peer mediation. To their credit, most of the students in our very diverse community are very willing to accept the differences their peers bring to their schools.
I have been very supportive of student efforts to promote the National Day of Silence, recognizing that gay youth should not be forced by intimidation to keep their sexual preferences hidden. They should feel safe to be at school and in our community.

Bullying has become an increasing problem in society, especially with the advent of cyber-bullying. I believe we have a real responsibility to do all we can to stop the behavior and educate students  to bring these problems to their principal.

As the chairperson of the District Policy Committee, we are currently reviewing and refining a comprehensive policy on addressing cyber-bullying. Students deserve to feel safe and welcome at school and in their community. Teaching them how not to be ‘victims’ of bullying is an important skill that will serve them throughout life.

Likewise, students who spread malicious rumors about other students or inflict physical or emotional pain on others need to understand that such behavior is not tolerated in the job world or in civil communities. Learning that lesson helps them to be more effective in their chosen profession and avocations.


Today’s world of cyber bullying is different than traditional bullying. It is far-reaching, more visually potent, and harder to wash away than words written on a wall. Every day our children miss school for fear of being bullied. While in 1999 California approved the Safe Schools Act prohibiting bullying and harassment in schools based actual or perceived orientation or gender identity there is still work to be done so our children are safe and feel safe in school.

With one in five students and an appalling nine in 10 gay and lesbian students bullied each year, anti-bully programs must be mandated in our schools.

That is why I am proud to support Gay Straight Alliance  clubs in our Natomas Schools. Studies show that GSAs are effective in reducing discrimination, encouraging supportive environments not merely because of their activities, but by their very presence, as well as, reducing truancy and suicide attempts.

As your board member, I led the effort to expand staff development to include techniques on creating safe learning environments for all our students, protected the rights of our kids to participate in a “Day of Silence” and expanded policies to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

According to research, just one caring and well-informed adult in a school can make a world of difference in a student’s life that is being bullied. Supporting the safety of our students is my priority, which is why I have the endorsement of our Sacramento Police Officers Association.


  1. These kids are not only bullied by other kids, some
    are bullied by administrators. I know first hand of one administrator
    that uses the bully technique. But since school policy says you are
    guilty until proven innocent…this particular administrator will keep applying
    their “MO” until their stopped.

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