Money Keeping Tulsa Public Schools From Helping Bullying Victims

Tuesday, October 12th 2010, 9:16 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Tulsa Public Schools is trying to solve the problem of bullies. But the school district is running into road blocks to keep from installing a new system help victims.

Natalie Ford says her daughter has been a victim of bullies since elementary school.

"We've been dealing with bullying issues since third grade," she said.

Tuesday night she listened as Tulsa Public Schools officials talked to parents about the problem. Ford says it's gotten better since her daughter moved up to Wilson Middle School, but she says school administrators have room for improvement.

"They need to listen, they really need to listen," she said. "There's a difference between whining and a difference between coming to somebody and saying, 'Look, I really have a problem. Please help me."

The News On 6 has been tracking Tulsa Public Schools and its anti-bullying efforts since this past spring. At the time we learned the district did not have a comprehensive plan in place.

"To be honest at this point we've got a series of things that are going on throughout the district but nothing that has been coordinated to this point," Kevin Burr, TPS Assistant Superintendent, said in April.

4/2/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools To Develop, Implement Anti-Bullying Program

Four months later, News On 6 education reporter Ashli Sims discovered the district was planning to purchase a program called "Talk About It." It would allow students to text or e-mail faculty members who would be able to respond directly with advice.

8/17/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools To Battle Bullies By Encouraging Students To 'Talk About It'

But the district is still looking for money to purchase the program.

Tenna Whitsel, TPS Support Services: "It's a matter of someone just stepping up to the plate and saying, 'We believe in this project and we want your kids to be safe and we need, like, $36,000 to equip our secondary schools with it."

Dan Bewley, News On 6: Your hoping for private funding?

Tenna Whitsel, TPS Support Services: "Private funding or grant funding."

Ford hopes that happens sooner than later. She says it's been two years since her daughter was first bullied and she's still dealing with the side effects.

Tulsa Public School officials say they're still in the process of approving a policy that is stricter than state law.

For example, it would require a mandatory investigation after any report of bullying.