MENTOR, Ohio — The Ohio school district where four bullied students died by their own hands has worked for years to fight bullying, the superintendent said.
Mentor Superintendent Jacqueline Hoynes said in a statement posted on the district's website over the weekend that the strategy includes having elementary school students pledge to stand up to bullies and report them to adults.
“Our anti-bullying programs have been in place before the state mandated anti-bullying programs and policies,” the statement said.
Anti-bullying committees were set up in each school building to identify the causes and deal with potential victims, bystanders, and adults, the statement said.
News of the statement was first reported by The News-Herald newspaper.
The Associated Press reported in detail Friday about the deaths of four Mentor High School students between 2006 and 2008. Three were suicides, one an overdose of antidepressants. All four students had been bullied. The district would not comment for the story.
1 Ohio school, 4 bullied teens dead at own hand Oct. 8, 2010
Ken Myers, an attorney for two of the families, told NBC's “Today” show on Monday that the district had seemed to take a hands-off approach to bullying.
“They can have assemblies and all sorts of lessons that they teach the kids, but probably the most important part is what the teachers and administrators are doing when they see this sort of thing happening,” Myers said.
Some of the student deaths followed bullying that was “incessant, it was constant, and the teachers and the administrators for whatever reason took a hands-off, laissez-faire approach and didn't get involved and stop this at its inception,” he said.
Hoynes said in the statement she had been advised by the school attorney to remain silent on the lawsuits.