WISD superintendent meets with students to discuss bullying, mental health solutions

While the community is divided over the controversial alterations to the Wimberley Texan logo, students have created an open line of communication with administrators, such as counselors, principals and Superintendent Dwain York.

Students heavily influenced and expanded an anti-bullying resource document under the guidance of Amy Lyles, Wimberley ISD Director of Student Support Services.

For the past year, Wimberley High School students have been meeting with Lyles, who spends her time asking students how the district can improve and understand student safety.

Lyles said she collaborated with the Wimberley High School Spectrum Club, which is a student led initiative that strives to improve the district through student input.

Last year students informed administrators of several issues, which inspired implementation of new programs, such as the wellness center and outside agencies now helping the district.

Revamping an anti-bullying resource document is the latest and on-going collaborative solutions effort. Students pointed out gaps in the current document and administrators are working to create processes that fill those gaps.

Educating students and staff is an initiative led by students and Lyles explained what that education looks like.

“Our next step is to educate high school and junior high teachers and students. We’re still in the process of formulating this, but it starts with questions like, what is harassment? We all need the same understanding of what that means. Then, what do we do when we see it happening? The third step is, if it doesn’t get better after doing that, then this is how you go about reporting it,” Lyles said.

Currently, the reporting system in place is called P3, which is anonymous and is a safe, instant place for students to report any concern, from a student reporting that they are feeling bullied, or sharing concerns about a student with a weapon, social media posts that might scare them or conversations with students saying that they want to hurt themselves or others, according to the WISD website.

Students felt that the reporting system wasn’t enough. Amid recent political tensions, Lyles said that students’ concerns have led to a plan of action before recent district issues.

“In case it appears that this is reactive, I want to go back to the wellness center. We gave students a voice to ask for what they needed support-wise in school. Every single time a student has brought up an idea, I’ve helped build the bridge between students and York. The answer is always yes. There has been action towards their needs for a long time, not just because this is going on now. They have been heard or the programs here wouldn’t already be in place,” Lyles said.

York has attended Spectrum club meetings for the past year and before the 2019 winter break he bought the students lunch to spend more time talking with students.

After making several appearances and hearing students’ concerns, he believes the line of communication is open between himself and students.

“We’ve had this agreement all along that you[students]can say what you want to say. View me as a vessel to help you. My perception is that they feel much more comfortable talking to me because they will talk very bluntly to you,” York said.

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