Once again, Altoona must address bullying

My name is Levi Beers and I’m a father of three children in the Altoona Area School District.

Last Friday, Jan. 12, a number of AASD students who attended the Hollidaysburg basketball game heartlessly and brazenly began mocking the tragic death of an opposing player’s mother.

Many in the community will agree that the actions of the students who participated were abhorrent.

Even after the tragic suicide of an AASD student last year and a comprehensive analysis of current school policy, the students who participated showed no concern for accountability.

This week, the Altoona Area School Board stated to the Mirror that they are looking for a teachable moment from this, but the public’s criticism and doubt of the board is that it specifically fails to act on issues such as bullying and instead discusses the new building.

While some faculty have blamed the administration for tying their hands in dealing with bullying, the administration swears it has studied and implemented a zero-tolerance polic. Yet, year after year, these issues seemingly get worse.

Most students, if not all who participated in these acts, experience no repercussions, so they don’t fear any.

AASD needs to fervently apply the zero tolerance policy it touts consistently, including suspension and expulsion for repeat offenders.

AASD could begin to show just how serious they intend to be with the issue by having a district-wide assembly where it slams the student actions on

Jan. 12 and lays out consequences moving forward, including the student section being dissolved for the remainder of the year.

Should these types of incidents in the district continue and our community hears more of the same excuses, I hope to see candidates running during the next school board election who won’t hesitate to take the significant action needed to curb this growing problem.

It would be refreshing for a candidate to make this part of his or her platform.

To the Ottaway family, I hope I speak for the entire community when I say that we’re not only sorry for your loss, but we’re sorry for the actions of those students on Jan. 12 and for those who continue to exacerbate the situation on social media.

It’s my hope that the atrocious display of immaturity by the AASD students that your family endured spurs more community, parental and school district involvement with regard to bullying and cyberbullying.

There is no honor or integrity in what those students did, but there is for those who speak up against it.

Levi Beers