Students nodded in agreement. They wiped their eyes. Some raised their hands and made the sign language symbol for “I love you.”
Kirk Smalley stood in front of an auditorium packed with about 700 students at Southeast High School. He talked about his son, Ty, who killed himself two years ago in Perkins.
Smalley, a tall, lean man with Wranglers and a handlebar mustache, still choked up when he talked about Ty.
“The day after my boy killed himself, they were telling jokes about him at school,” Smalley said.
Students recited an anti-bullying pledge together, ending with cheers and whistles from the group.
“You can make this stop,” Smalley said. “You're the only ones who can make this stop.”
The number of bullying incidents reported has increased during the past 15 years, Safe School Coordinator Tracy Alvarez for Oklahoma City Public Schools said. This year, a new reporting system will hopefully streamline and improve how administrators take care of bullying and other incidents in the district, Alvarez said.
A new website and hotline to report bullying in Oklahoma City Public Schools has generated more than 150 reports since it opened Aug. 1, according to district statistics.
The bilingual system was purchased with a $50,000 grant.
Reports can be made to ww.okcps.org or 587-STOP.
Complaints about bullying were reported to and investigated by local school leaders, and in the past, the process wasn't always followed the same way at each school site, Alvarez said.
“With so many schools, it was hard to get a grip on where we were,” she said.
Reports are divided into types:
• suicide risk
• threats of violence
Reports can be made anonymously.
Each report is sent to a team of staff members, including the school principal, counselor, resource officer and district administrators.
The program also tracks when alerts have been read by school principals.