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Bend-La Pine Schools Addresses Bias Incidents

BEND, OR -- Bend-La Pine Schools has faced criticism in the past for its handling of bias complaints from students. In a recent podcast, the Superintendent talked with other district officials about how to improve reporting and response of bias incidents.

Kinsey Martin is Bend-La Pine Schools’ Director of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. "The state is now, with the new legislation, not asking us to - requiring us to also prioritize the mental well-being of our students," she says, "Especially those who are experiencing this level of bias." A new state law went into effect in January, requiring districts have a process in place for reporting and addressing these types of incidents in schools.

"Bias Incidents" are defined as behaviors that target another person based on their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or other identifying factor. Martin says there’s a new reporting process in place designed to better track incidents, "We’ve had over 160 reports made, this year, of different bias incidents." Assistant Director of Student Services Eric Powell says the new process aims to provide wrap around services to victims and their families, "One of these is one too many. And I think it’s important to honor and recognize that at the basis of every one of these is a student in our system that experienced trauma." The district process also includes educating the offending student and their family.

Martin says the district is now expanding its reporting process, "Open it up, make sure all staff are aware how to make the reports themselves, versus sharing it with a principal. So, we’ve expanded access to all of our staff, at this point. We are about to roll out and try out some lessons for students."

Click HERE to listen to the full "Supe's On" podcast episode called "Even One is Too Many," with Superintendent Dr. Steven Cook.

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