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Educational Services Division

Safe School Symposium: Creating a Bully-Free School

Bullying Prevention

On December 4, 2012, over ninety Santa Cruz County teachers, staff, administrators, students, parents and community members came together to focus on anti-bullying strategies. The purpose of this Safe School Symposium was to inform stakeholders about the bullying issues affecting county youth and the collaborative solutions required to transform school communities from bullying to belonging.

Participating school communities included: Aptos High, Bonny Doon Elementary, Branciforte Middle, Cypress Charter, De Laveaga Elementary, Del Mar Elementary, E.A. Hall Elementary, Gault Elementary, Green Acres Elementary, Harbor High, Live Oak Elementary, Main Street Elementary, Mar Vista Elementary, Monarch, Mount Madonna, New Brighton Middle, Pajaro Valley High, Renaissance High, San Lorenzo Valley Middle, SLVUSD Charter, Santa Cruz Adult School, Santa Cruz Community, Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary, Scotts Valley High, Shoreline Middle, Soquel Elementary, Twin Lakes Christian, Watsonville Charter School of the Arts, and Watsonville High.

Wayne Sakamoto, the Director of Safe Schools for the Murrieta Valley Unified School District and Safe Schools Trainer for the California Department of Education, was the Symposium keynote—energizing and setting the stage for the day’s event. Wayne did this by providing an overview of bullying definitions; the relationship between mass media and bullying; as well as the impact prevention programs have in building positive social climates and safe school environments.
Keynote presentation
MVUSD Bullying Definition

Attendees were divided into cohorts, consisting of: school administrators/policy makers, parents/community members, and teachers/support staff to hear a series of workshops that were tailored towards the roles the targeted groupings have in ensuring safe and bully-free campuses. The following topics were covered during the symposium:

Jason BorgenPreparing the iGeneration to be Safe and Responsible Digital Citizens by Jason Borgen, Program Director TICAL/SCCOE
As we move through the 21st century, we are becoming more and more connected to the digital world where relationships, work, and activities are happening online. Students' lives are parallel to this, but are they holding the same values and ethics as we do when it comes to online behavior and use? As we see more cyber-bullying permeating our students and schools, we need to not only be prepared with our school policies, but also with our role in teaching our youth responsible citizenship. Each cohort was informed about current online risks to youth safety and ways they as administrators, teachers, parents, and community can mitigate these risks to ensure safe, supportive learning environments for all students.
Resources from this presentation

Wayne SakamotoLegislation/Legal Requirement
Wayne Sakamoto, Director of Safe Schools Murrieta Valley Unified School District

The school administration workshop covered the school requirements for reducing bullying, tools to help maintain safe-school campuses, as well as sample action plans needed in response to recent CA legislative changes. The teacher and support staff presentation provided educators with the tools needed to recognize the varying forms of bullying and immediate response techniques to deal with incidents. The parent and community presentation illustrated tips for how parents can help schools with bullying investigations, how schools investigate bullying (based on new legislative requirements), while also offering insight to maximizing partnerships with community organizations and prevention efforts.
California Department of Education's Safe Schools Resources
Administrators: Solutions to Bullying
Teachers: Bullying Prevention Classroom Strategies
Parent/Community: Bullying Presentation Parent/Community

Panel of Local Best Practices
Participants were provided an overview of two of the most commonly used bullying prevention strategies, positive school climate programs used locally and throughout the state. The emphasis was on targeting the overall culture and climate of our schools and communities—by creating common language, school/community behavior norms, and data-informed decisions, all of which promote safe, healthy schools that are conducive to the social, emotional health and academic achievement for all.

Jeff CaplanJeff Caplan, Director Common Language Program
Punishment and suspension don’t always stop bullying due to the later retaliation against the target student. The Common Language Program sponsors the local initiative to establish non–punitive, low staff time, student-directed Solution Teams® to respond to bystanders, bullies and targets. Recent research shows that Solution Team® and Solution Coach® are above 80% effective to end bullying in adopting schools K-12.
Solution Team/Solution Coach, New Best Practices to End Bullying

Rebecca MendiolaRebecca Mendiola, Coordinator Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) – Regional Technical Assistance Center
Participants were provided with an overview of the California Department of Education supported Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) program. PBIS is not a curriculum but rather an implementation framework that is designed to enhance academic and social behavior outcomes for all students by (a) emphasizing the use of data for informing decisions about the selection, implementation and progress monitoring of evidence-based behavioral practices; and (b) organizing resources and systems to improve durable implementation fidelity.
PBIS Network - California
Establishing Positive Social Culture: PBIS and Bully Prevention

Bringing it all Together

Leslie PoynerLeslie Poynor, Research Associate for West Ed, provided the school teams with their California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) data and a rousing end of the day data dialogue about perceptions and realties of what is happening on their school campus in regards to safety, bullying and school climate. Her presentation demonstrated how important it is to analyze and use the CHKS data to fully grasp the gravity of the issue and thus formulate specific data-driven responses.
Bullying Never (Always!) Happens at my School

The session concluded with all cohorts convening together into their respective school/community groupings to begin the task of developing their safe school plans – everyone committed to one thing they will do to help end bullying in their schools.

Here are some examples of ideas shared by the participants:

“Bring information back to our student council and start being up-standers!”

“The data was eye-opening – we will make one change in our school climate to address the issues.”

“We will schedule a training for common language and solution teams at our school.”

At the conclusion of the day, each team was energized to implement a new strategy at their school, realized the importance data plays in developing a safe school campus, and was excited about the new resources made available through the Student Support Services Department of the Santa Cruz County Office of Education.

“Great Symposium! Best practices were valuable - I want to arrange a training for staff” – Administrator Alternative Education

“Loved the resource networking, I had no idea what was available.” – Community member

“Very informative.” – School Administrator

“Liked the information on technology and cyber bullying.” – Student

“Wayne really set the stage for the day.” – Charter School Administrator

“The panel at lunch was powerful.” – High School Teacher

“Excellent Speakers. Everything was well organized!” – Parent Education Specialist

“Excellent! Powerful!” – Elementary School Teacher

“Have new ides for my classroom!” – Elementary School Teacher

“Would like to see more youth involved – some from every school district.” – Student

“Gained insight in the world of bullying and our own school community.” – Middle school Teacher

The funding for this event and subsequent support for PBIS, Solution Teams® and Common Language training comes from the CDE Safe School Planning Unit and the CalMHSA/CCSESA School Mental Health Initiative.


The California County Superintendents Educational Services Association’s Regional K-12 Student Mental Health Initiative is administered by the California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA), an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. Prevention and Early Intervention programs implemented by CalMHSA are funded through the voter-approved Mental Health Services Act (Prop 63). Prop 63 provides the funding and framework needed to expand mental health services to previously underserved populations and all of California's diverse communities.

Prop 63 logo

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