We are perplexed by the news of a lawsuit against Brunswick Junior High School under the leadership of Principal Walter Wallace (“Maine Human Rights Commission, parent sue Brunswick School Department, principal over bullying,” July 8). In our experience, the administration sets the tone of a school and its staff. The overarching atmosphere at BJHS is warm, encouraging and supportive, a reflection of Mr. Wallace?s own character and demeanor. During their years there, our children did witness occasional incidences of bullying. When reported, they were handled in a timely way, with respect, authority and confidentiality. None of their complaints were disregarded or treated dismissively by the administration.
This case brings to mind the issue of what we expect of our schools and their administrations. The steps that were taken in response to an exceptional experience of bullying seem to go well beyond taking responsibility. The steps to accommodate the victim sound well above average. They match our sense of what the staff at BJHS would develop as objective responses to that student?s distress. They reflect our own impressions of how staff under Mr. Wallace?s administration responded to examples of bullying during our kids? time there. It also makes clear that each accommodation and the constellation of them does not guarantee that the bullied student will actually feel safe.
The goal of nourishing that student?s confidence falls on everyone who cares about him, as much out of school as in it.
Claudia Brzoza & David Nagler