BENTON, MO (KFVS) - A week after a protest at Kelly High School in Benton, Missouri, three members of the student body went before the school board to present their ideas to eliminate bullying in the district.
Teens and parents rallied at the high school on Friday, Nov. 3, amid concerns about bullying and student safety. Those involved in the protest said they were taking a stand against bullying, racism and sexual misconduct.
District leaders gathered on Thursday, November 9 for the first time since that rally.
During the meeting, three high school students presented their ideas to eliminate bullying across all schools in the district.
Those ideas included having senior students welcome others into all three schools in the district to help make it feel more inviting. They also suggested putting notes inside of middle school lockers and establishing a board where positive notes could be posted at the high school.
Alyssa Woodrome, an officer with the Student Council, said they want to start with the elementary school in hopes of leaving a lasting impact that can change the culture of the schools.
"We want to solve the school wide problem and not just each individual problem," said Woodrome. "We want to encourage positivity and good thinking and anti-bullying. Not just because of what's happened, we just want to take care of it collectively."]
Superintendent Fara Jones also addressed the situation in her report to the board. She said that while the district is not perfect, there are good kids in the district. She also commended the three students on their presentation.
School leaders said some of the ideas presented by the students are already being implemented and other things will be rolled out over the next couple of months.
The rally that prompted Thursday's night presentation comes two weeks after an incident on school grounds.
According to Captain Ryan Dennis with the Scott County Sheriff's Department, a student tried to harm themselves on school property after that person was reportedly bullied.
Some of the protesters said they think bullying and harassment are ignored at Kelly High School.
Parent Rob Staggs said, "I feel uneasy. As a father, we are protective of our children and our families and when your daughter says she's scared to come to school, what do you do?""
Captain Dennis said he believes everyone needs to be involved in a solution.
"I think we have to have a better communication with the school, try to offer some type of classes or training for the administration, the teachers as well as the students and try to work with them as far as counseling and stuff like that," he said.
Superintendent Fara Jones released this statement in response to the rally:
Superintendent Jones also answered additional questions about the school's bullying and harassment policies. Mobile users can click here to read.
Superintendent Jones said the principal did not dismiss the parent's concerns. The district has a report form students or parents can fill out if they're concerned about bullying or other behaviors. But, they've received just four report forms this school year.
She questioned why parents and students would rather post their concerns on social media instead of through the proper channels.
Jones does say changes are being made.
A counselor from Bootheel Counseling spent time at Kelly High School to meet with students to discuss their concerns. Jones said there will be additional staff training and efforts to get more students involved in how the district can meet their needs.
They are also working to develop staff training and small group student mental health sessions.