Tehachapi schools unanimously OK anti-bullying curriculum

TEHACHAPI, Calif.(KBAK/KBFX) - After a series of sometimes-contentious meetings between parents and school officials, the Tehachapi Unified School District Board of Trustees adopted an anti-bullying curriculum for Grades 6 through 12.

The new curriculum is called "safe and inclusive schools."

"It requires that we specifically talk to students about harassment and particularly sexual- and gender-based harassment," said TUSD Superintendent Lisa Gilbert.

The school district has been under a string of federal mandates after the suicide of 13-year-old student Seth Walsh, who hanged himself after being bullied at school for being gay.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education found the district did not adequately investigate or respond to the bullying. As a result, the district was mandated to implement a curriculum that focuses on preventing bullying.

But, some parents protested, saying the curriculum focused too much on gays and lesbians as targets.

"As a parent, not only religious beliefs and moral beliefs, I think that needs to be in the home. I think public education should be more concerned about reading, writing and arithmetic," said parent Bonnie Mata.

Gilbert said the district formed a parents committee and tweaked the plan before presenting the final version to the school board.

"We broadened the scope," said Gilbert.

The school board had previously adopted a similar curriculum for students in elementary school. The new plan is to be implemented immediately, said Gilbert.

Some parents had said they would pull their children out of class when the safe-and-inclusive curriculum is taught. Gilbert said the U.S. Department of Justice does not allow for that and the school district cannot excuse any child to be exempt from the curriculum.