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Pineview Elementary

Students meet their families at the end of the school day Sept. 5, 2018, outside Pineview Elementary in Casper. Principals at Natrona County's elementary schools say they have concerns about widespread behavioral problems.

Concerns around bullying, attendance, dress code and cellphone use are largely a non-issue in Casper’s elementary schools, four administrators told the Natrona County school board Monday night.

The report from the four principals, who spoke for a group of administrators, is part of a broader effort by the school board and higher-level officials in the district to provide updates on behavior within Natrona County schools. In November, the leaders from the district’s five high schools provided a similar update, though they said the dress code remains an issue.

Before that, a group of administrators met in June to discuss bullying and broadly said bullying was not an issue, though they asked for more uniformity across schools, an issue the board would later take up.

But the four elementary administrators reported generally good news. Cottonwood’s Valerie Brus said principals didn’t “experience a lot of dress code issues,” though she said leggings and spaghetti-strapped shirts provide the bulk of the issues that do arise. The larger problem is students growing out of clothes during the school year.

As for attendance, Sagewood’s Anna Lavin had a similarly positive report. She said attendance was less of an issue with younger students because their parents were more likely to be involved in getting kids to school. For those kids that do struggle, Lavin said administrators had done home visits or provided parents with gas money.

A bigger issues, she said, was keeping kindergartners in class; the grade level isn’t required in Wyoming, which makes it more challenging.

By the time Bar Nunn’s Angie Hayes took the mic in front of the board, the administrators started to sound like a broken record. Technology use — specifically cellphones — was “not too much of a concern,” Hayes said. The policy is communicated to parents at the beginning of the year, and parents are notified again if there’s an issue. The same can be said of staff, she said.

Finally, Phil Hubert, of Lincoln Elementary, said the primary thing administrators brought up was an inconsistency of intervention across schools. He suggested bolstering training across schools. He highlighted an issue administrators have brought up for months: the difference between bullying and harassment. The distinction was part of the board’s work on the bullying policy that was completed in the fall.

Trustee Dana Howie asked if the school often faced bullying issues.

“I wouldn’t say it’s often,” Hubert said. He said he was addressed when teachers identified it.

The principals as a whole expressed some concern about the district’s recently unveiled discipline guidelines, intended to standardize punishment across schools. They said that was particularly an issue for younger students and that administrators weren’t inclined to suspend a kindergartner for three days for hitting another student.

Kindergartners “could be suspended a dozen days in the first week,” Hayes said.

The presentation came as the board continues its work to address what some parents have said is widespread bullying across the district. The meetings essentially are meant to take the temperature of recently unveiled policies and monitor implementation and the success — or lack thereof — of such work.

Follow education reporter Seth Klamann on Twitter @SethKlamann

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Education and Health Reporter

Seth Klamann joined the Star-Tribune in 2016 and covers education and health. A 2015 graduate of the University of Missouri and proud Kansas City native, Seth worked for newspapers in Milwaukee and Omaha before coming to Casper.

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