MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Reports of bullying in Monongalia County Schools are handled quickly and by a team of professionals inside the organization and, if needed, local law enforcement.

Director of Safe Schools and Athletics, Adam Henkins, told board members that bullying can start off on school grounds and be brought into the school building. Henkins said they have to determine if it is related to social media, a cell phone, or a disagreement, and that can take several people within the district to address.

Donna Talerico

“There are a lot of things that are involved in a bullying situation, and my best answer to you is that all hands are on deck when it comes to bullying,” Henkins said.

The team within the schools is comprised of the Director of Assessment, Accountability, and School Counseling, Courtney Crawford; Angela Hayes, Coordinator of School Psychology; and Mike Ryan, Coordinator of Student Supports. The response to reports of bullying is investigated immediately.

“It’s not just one department; it’s not just the counseling department, and it’s not just the school administrators,” Henkins said. “When we’re notified, I’ll be honest with you; if I’m notified, I’m always reaching out to the schools, and we try to break it down from where it is.”

Deputy Superintendent Donna Talerico added that this is a priority issue for the administration to sort out as soon as possible. She said the issues can be complicated and difficult for the students to talk about, and that requires more time and expertise.

“Everyone from this office has distinct pieces that they contribute to this because it is not a single issue and it always involves a lot. I don’t care what grade level you are, and it’s always personal,” Talerico said.

According to Henkins, the investigations are thorough and can involve local law enforcement, depending on the circumstances of the incident.”Working with local law enforcement agencies that are sometimes involved in those depends on the day it’s occurring, when it’s occurring, or how serious it is,” Henkins said.

Talerico explained that thorough investigations can result in a cooling of tensions between parties that can prevent escalation. She added that making sure students feel safe in the classroom is the top priority for families and quality learning.

“Those are the issues we have to work on before we get to anything more serious,” Talerico said. “That’s what evolves into things and the reason we have to talk about school safety to the level we do.”