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UnifiEd Discusses School Board's Progress on Changing Policies

UnifiEd student organizers working

A local education advocacy group is talking about the Hamilton County school board's policy on bullying.

Friday, they met to talk about what was discussed in Thursday night's work session.

"At first people wouldn't listen, now it's like something bad happened, now you wanna listen? It's the time to listen," Akira Lewis, a junior at Ooltewah High and student organizer for UnifiEd, said.

She says UnifiEd has been talking about the bullying problem in the school system since before the Ooltewah rape case.

"I know students personally, like friends, that will not go to a certain class because of what's going on in that class," Lewis said.

Akia says she thinks the school board is making progress by introducing a way to anonymously report bullying but says the school system hasn't told students about it yet.

"If I wouldn't have gone to the meeting yesterday, I wouldn't have known that was in place," he said.

Nick Wilkins, another student organizer, is a senior at Ooltewah High. He says UnifiEd wants the school board to be more open about how the new reporting system will work.

"We want it to be more transparent, so what happens after I file a report, who does it go to, what steps are supposed to be taken," he said.

He says he would like to see a more in-depth policy with more than just how students should follow the rules.

"I'm really excited to see Rick Smith and the school board discuss these issue publicly and open up public comment. I think that transparency is one of the major things we're looking for, to be able to say what's supposed to happen and are they doing it and that accountability is so important," Wilkins said.

The students say they want to have more ways to report bullying than online because some students may not have access to internet at home.

The students plan to address the superintendent and board members with more of their ideas at the school board meeting next Thursday, January 21st.


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