Central Regional High School Implements Anti-Bullying Measures

Central Regional School District today said the district launched – or scheduled for implementation – all elements of the action plan announced last month. The plan comes in the aftermath of the suicide last month of 14-year-old student Adriana Kuch, who was attacked in the hallway of the Berkeley Twp. high school.

The district said it wants to improve its response to bullying and behavior issues, enhance and increase awareness of student support services, and expand communications channels with parents and students.

In his reports to parents and the Central Regional Board of Education, Acting Superintendent Douglas Corbett reviewed the organization and recommendations offered by the District’s new Parent Steering Committee and Student Steering Committee. Parents highlighted character education, exploring the root causes of disruptive behavior, and developing a system for anonymously offering suggestions for improvements without repercussions.

Student Steering Committee members shared personal experiences and suggested principles for the District’s cultural foundation.  They also discussed bullying, self-harm and suicidal thoughts, social media influences, cell phone policy, and support an anonymous channel for reporting concerns about other students or incidents without repercussions.

The District will soon launch the HELPme App developed by STOPit Solutions of Holmdel. The App provides connections and access to resources for basic needs, 24/7 immediate crisis support, and a two-way communication channel with the school that protects privacy and dignity. Students and the school community can use the App free of charge. It offers a first line of defense for young people to get help with issues ranging from mental health and suicide prevention to food insecurity and homelessness, the district noted in a press release.

Other planned technology improvements include upgraded security monitoring of school premises, new classroom phone systems and an upgraded PA system.

Middle School and High School staff and administrators are in the process of reviewing a “fresh look” at Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) policies and procedures to assess what works, what doesn’t, and potential improvements. The New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) will also review HIB and other procedures.

Enhanced training needs have been identified, and the district has added another anti-bullying specialist for a total of four. A new school safety specialist has been appointed, and expanded duties are under review for the High School’s disciplinary dean.

Central Reginal faculty and staff also underscored the need for more individual communications with parents and guardians, not only about academic progress, but also about behavioral observations.

High school students will hear from Dr. Michael “Mykee” Fowlin, a psychologist, performer, and poet, whose powerful message builds a culture of inclusiveness for everyone. This assembly was made possible through funding and support by Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s office.

Middle School students will meet Dan Duddy, a motivational speaker who inspires a strong inner core for overcoming life’s challenges, will give a message focused on bullying, social media, and responsible choices. In addition, Ocean County College will run Mindfulness and Stress Management workshops for students, and a Therapeutic Writing Workshop will be hosted by an accomplished author and CRHS alumna later this month.

Several student organizations, such as the Kindness Crusaders, have also been reactivated, focused on peer-to-peer promotion of positive relationships and behaviors.

School counselors are available for anyone who needs assistance navigating their school day, their social interactions or help with any other challenge. Apart from our specialized counselors, Corbett encourages students and families “to contact any faculty or staff member who you know well, or feel comfortable to approach, with problem situations.”

Corbett acknowledged the recommendations from many groups for improvements in the school district. “More ideas and recommendations arrive every day. Regardless of whether an initiative is old or new, we are focused intently on engaging with our school families and many others, and implementing an improved, comprehensive approach to our student services, just as we do with our academic programming.”

“With the help of many students, parents and guardians, our faculty and staff, outside experts and the broader community, I believe we are making progress.”

The Central Regional School District, which includes a middle school and high school (grades 7-12), has an enrollment of about 2,700 students.  The District includes the municipalities of Berkeley Township, Island Heights, Ocean Gate, Seaside Heights and Seaside Park.

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