26th Annual Conference by lonyoo


									                            26th Annual Conference
                Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution
        “Power, Politics and Collaboration—Bringing Visions to Reality”
                             October 15-17, 1998
                               Portland, Oregon

                          Session Title:
                    A Collaborative Approach
                       October 17, 1998
                    Session 7.07 - Tape 117A


                           Bonnie Prouty Castrey
               Huntington Beach Union High School District Board
                            Huntington Beach, CA

                         Tia Schneider Denenberg
                      Director of Workplace Solutions, Inc.
                                  Red Hook, NY

                            Marcia L. Greenbaum
                                   Essex, MA

                                John Lenssen
                     Oregon State Department of Education
                                 Salem, OR

                              [EDITED TRANSCRIPT]

      My name is Tia Schneider Denenberg. I‟m an arbitrator and mediator

from New York and also the Director of Workplace Solutions, a project funded by

the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The project combines crisis

management and conflict resolution for the sake of ensuring violence-free

        Today we are speaking about a particular type of workplace, the schools.

We proposed this session a year ago; certainly, preventing violence in public

schools was an issue at that time. Unfortunately, as the year went on, the issue

became more and more urgent as terrible events unfolded throughout the


       While SPIDR has been in session, there was a Presidential Conference

on violence prevention in the public schools in Washington, D.C. President

Clinton announced that $25 million would be made available to ten communities

for new violence prevention projects, in fields from mental health to conflict

resolution and mentoring. For communities that are hit by violence, Clinton said

he would ask Congress for 12 million dollars to provide immediate and long-term

mental health counseling.

       As dispute resolvers, we want to contribute to prevention and

systems-creation efforts, and that‟s what this panel is about. The speakers

intend to discuss systems, good and bad, that have been established throughout

the country and to leave plenty of time for your questions and comments. I know

a many of you have been doing outstanding work in your own communities, and

we would also like to learn from your experience.

       Our first speaker today will be Marcia Greenbaum, who is a past SPIDR

International President. She started out in the labor-management field in 1963

after leaving Cornell University, where she graduated from the School of

Industrial and Labor Relations. Marcia is a true pioneer in this field. For one
thing, before scholars began analyzing what mediators do, she was doing it. She

was not only applying her talents in labor management relations but also in the

community and in the international arena. Marcia is inventive in helping

disputants come to their own solutions. Marcia will help us understand how we

can identify crisis-prone systems and bring them to the other side of the

equation, which is what we call crisis prepared.

       We are also honored to have another pioneer, John Lenssen, who

comes to us from the Oregon Department of Education. He is a violence

prevention and civil rights specialist. His areas of expertise are peer mediation,

staff training and crisis response. John will share some of the experiences that

he has gleaned from his work throughout the state.

       Bonnie Castrey, who is another SPIDR International President and a

pioneer in many different fields, will speak next. I also like to have Bonnie on the

program because, first of all, she is an R.N. who keeps up her qualification; if

anything goes wrong, we‟re okay. We have a certified professional medical

person on tap.

       When Bonnie was a nurse in California, she helped to organize the

California Nurses‟ Association. Then she met federal mediator Robert Castrey

whose last name she now shares, Robert said, “Gee, you should become a

federal mediator,” and so Bonnie went on to the second stage of her career, in

which she became a professional neutral. She is now working on her own in

labor management and every other application of dispute resolution. When
Bonnie was a federal mediator in Southern California, members of the unions in

the Huntington Beach School District, which is the area in which she resided,

and teachers came to her and said, “Bonnie, the conflict between labor and

management is lousing up the delivery of education in the schools, and we would

like you, as a peacemaker, who we turn to in our workplace disputes, to come

and get on the school board, run for office and help straighten out the school

district.” And Bonnie is actually up for reelection again for what, about your fourth

or fifth term? Fourth term.

       One of the things that Bonnie did, after helping smooth out the labor

relations and getting it to a more partnering and cooperative stance, everybody

attacked the problem of what to do with violence in the schools. So she is here

today with her Board of Education hat on to talk about an innovative program

that‟s been in place, that translated techniques used in the labor sector into

school. So that‟s very exciting.

       Then, in the end we will invite all of your participation, comments. If you

have a question or a clarification that needs to be made, just let us know and I‟ll

bring the mike over. Unfortunately, if we don‟t all speak into the mike, we won‟t

record this for posterity. So, in any case, without further ado, I give you Marcia.


       Good morning and welcome to our session. What Tia did not speak about

 in depth is our not-for-profit corporation, called Workplace Solutions, Inc. which

deals in situations where there may be or has been workplace violence and
where there is a need to create a series of things to ensure that violence will not

occur. We like to think of workplaces in one of two ways. Either the workplace is

crisis prone or it is crisis prepared.

       Crisis-prone systems tend to do the following things: They ignore warning

signals. They deny human issues. They react to crises instead of being prepared

and engaging in prevention and training. They punish and expel impaired or

deviant employees. And where it says employees, you could read students and

think about what happened in Springfield, Oregon, and whether or not that

wasn‟t a crisis-prone system. There is often poor communication. Employees or

students feel disenfranchised. They‟re frustrated. There are high levels of

tension and stress. And top management delegates responsibility for crises

instead of dealing with it themselves.

       Most workplace violence or school violence is three things coming

together at the same time. First of all, it‟s the setting. The workplace, for

example, may be one that‟s downsizing where people are feeling an incredible

amount of tension and stress about the loss of their jobs. It may be a place

where there are very adversarial labor-management relations and people don‟t

trust the employer, their supervisors, their co-workers, or maybe even the union.

It also may be a place where there are high racial tensions, schools where there

may be rival gains. Places where there is a lot of conflict. That‟s the setting.

       Then there‟s the person, and the person may be someone who‟s under an

unbearable amount of stress for a wide variety of reasons. Perhaps he or she is
getting a divorce. Maybe they‟re in financial dire straits. Maybe there are family

conflicts, and sometimes these are brought into the workplace. And in the

workplace there may be other things that are causing them high levels of stress.

And these are people who find themselves boxed into a corner, who don‟t see

any way out and who don‟t know how to develop strategies or options to help

them get out of the situation.

       And finally, there is the situation. And that‟s the trigger for the violence

event. It may be, for example, a student who‟s expelled from school or an

employee who is discharged, or some severe penalty that‟s imposed. These are

the kinds of things that trigger violent acts when the setting and the person and

the situation come together. It‟s hard to profile employees or people and say this

person is going to commit a violent act. If you look at the statistics, I think that

people that act violently are essentially white, between the ages of 18 and 65

and male. That‟s a large population. And it could be virtually anyone. We like to

think that a parent who is walking on the street with a small child who‟s suddenly

abducted can instantly become violent to protect that child. So I think we‟re all

capable of doing this.

       These are the red flags that have been identified for people who might

potentially create violence:

          Threats of harm to themselves or others. Statements like “there‟s
           nothing to live for” indicating the person is very despondent and
          References to and access to weapons. People who are going to
           commit violent acts often focus on guns, on bombs and bomb

          Special interest in highly-publicized incidents of workplace violence.
           They pay a lot of attention to the news and the media when these
           kinds of events occur and talk about them in the workplace.

          A history of violent or self-destructive behavior. History, as we know,
           is often a predictor of what might happen in the future, but not always,
           and related to that destructive behavior, even if minor.

And if you look at the situations that occurred in the various school disputes, you

see that a number of these things occurred in those situations before the violent

acts occurred.

          Blaming employers, supervisors, teachers, co-workers, administrators
           for all kinds of problems. Failing to take self responsibility for bad
           things that happen.

          Crazy kind of talking. “People are out to get me, it‟s a conspiracy,” a
           kind of paranoia about their lives.

          Reports that co-workers are intimidated by or frightened of the
           employee. The person is physically intimidating, sometimes verbally
           intimidating, and people want to steer clear, which isolates that
           person all the more and makes them even crazier to themselves.

          Finally, feelings of victimization and oppression. We all know people
           who have this at times, but there are people who do this in a repeated
           way on a frequent basis.

Some more signs:

          Increased argumentativeness with co-workers or supervisors. For
           students, you might think with teachers or parents, or even their

          Actual or threats of loss or humiliation at work.

          Substance abuse. Alcohol. Drugs.
           Significant changes in usual behavior, in work performance, in
            appearance and the like.

       In August 1998, the Department of Education and the Department of

Justice, with a panel of experts, produced a report on school violence. It is

entitled “Early Warning, Timely Response—A Guide to Safe Schools.” And one

of the things they did was look at red flags for students and early warning signs. I

think they came up with 16 of these, and I‟ll read them off to you, and you will

see that they parallel the ones that we had earmarked for employees.

       1.   Social withdrawal which stems from feelings of depression, rejection,
            persecution, unworthiness and lack of confidence.

       2.   Excessive feelings of isolation in being alone, and that‟s associated
            with children who behave aggressively and violently.

       3.   Excessive feelings of rejection.

       4.   Being a victim of violence including physical or sexual abuse.

       5.   Feelings of being picked on and persecuted, humiliated,

       6.   Low school interest and poor academic performance.

       7.   Expression of violence in writings and drawings, in stories and poetry
            and other written expressions. Usually, it is consistent over time and
            signals emotional problems and potential for violence.

       8.   Uncontrolled anger, expressed frequently and intensely and in
            response to minor irritations which can signal potential violent
            behavior towards self or others.

       9.   Patterns of impulsive and chronic kidding, intimidating and bullying
            behaviors which, left unattended, can escalate into serious behaviors.

       10. A history of discipline problems: chronic misbehavior, both in school
           and at home.
       11. Past history of violence and aggressive behavior. Aggressive and
           violent acts which are directed toward other individuals, expressed in
           cruelty to animals or in setting fires. These kinds of aberrant

       12. Intolerance for differences and prejudicial attitudes. Membership in
           hate groups or the willingness to victimize individuals with disabilities
           or health problems or any kind of difference.

       13. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse.

       14. Affiliation with gangs--particularly those that support antisocial values
           and behaviors, including extortion, intimidation, acts of violence
           towards other students.

       15. Inappropriate access to, possession of and use of firearms.

       16. Finally, serious threats of violence which often are not taken seriously.
           Idle threats are a common response to frustration.

       Alternatively, one of the most reliable indicators that a youth is likely to

commit a dangerous act towards self or others is a detailed and specific threat to

use violence. And recent incidents across the country indicate that threats to

commit violence against oneself or others should be taken very seriously, and

that‟s something we really want to underscore here, and steps have to be taken

to understand the nature of those threats and to prevent them from being carried


       If you look at the various incidents that have occurred the last year in

schools, particularly those that got a lot of attention in the media, you will see

that these warning signs were there.

       The incident in Jonesboro, Arkansas where two boys pulled a false fire

alarm and shot four girls and a teacher to death was the prelude to what
happened exactly one month later in Edinboro, Pennsylvania. And the student

there, Andrew Wurst, who took his father‟s pistol to a school dance at the middle

school and fatally shot the teacher and wounded students and a teacher, said

two weeks earlier that he wanted to do what those boys in Jonesboro had done.

And he let that be known to his friends. And one of them who was interviewed

said, what he said was he was going to do something like that someday, but she

didn‟t take his comment seriously. She just told him, “Well, remind me not to go

to school that day.” She thought it was a joke. And that‟s the sort of refrain that

you hear in many of these instances.

         It was about a month later that Kip Kinkel created the violent acts that he

did here in Oregon. He was arrested and expelled from school the day before

because he tried to buy a gun from fellow students. He was released in the

custody of his parents, both of whom were teachers but not in that school

system. The next day he came to school with a rifle and in an uncontrollable

rage, and he opened fire and he killed a student and wounded 19, eight of whom

were critically injured. Were there any signs there? Yes, there were very many


         It was known by teachers and students alike that he was fascinated with

bombs. He gave a talk in his speech class on how to build a bomb. He bragged

that he had tortured animals. He got in trouble for throwing rocks off overpasses

at cars. In a literature class, which took place just before these events, he shared

an entry from his journal, and he read about his plans to kill everybody. And the
students in the room laughed. They thought it was a joke. It was funny. The

students knew that he had a very short fuse, and, in fact, they had voted that he

was the person most likely to start World War III.

       After his arrest and suspension, and the day before the shootings, he

warned a number of his friends that something was going to happen. And the

day of the event, he told others that he probably was going to do something

stupid today and get back at the people who expelled him; but no one said

anything to any officials who were in a position to act. His best friend said that he

was mad at himself for the incident and how his parents would react; and he was

worried at how it would shame his family and his family‟s friends, and he was

upset and embarrassed at being arrested.

       Those were essentially the triggering events; and one student who knew

him well said, “When he got suspended, I knew he wouldn‟t stand for it, and I

knew he would do something. I just didn‟t think it would be this.” So here was a

student who met many of the criteria for a potentially violent act and who had all

the early warning signs.

       In addition to early warning signs, there are sort of immediate warning

signs that someone is about to act, and we see those in his case, as well. For


          Serious physical fighting with peers or family members.

          Severe destruction of property. He had built a number of bombs
           which were found after the house was searched.

          A severe rage for seemingly minor reasons.
           Detailed threats of lethal violence.

           Possession and/or use of firearms and other weapons.

           Other self-injurious behaviors or threats of suicide.

        So I think if there‟s a message we have here today it is that these kinds of

acts may be preventable and that school systems need to be prepared to do


        If we look at the phases of crisis management, you will see on the right

side reactive crisis management. The event occurs and then people begin to

react to it. So you have crisis first, and then you have an effort at containment

and damage limitation and recovery. And hopefully all of this is a learning

experience, which I‟m sure it has been in many of these situations, and you

come around to what should have been there in the first place, and that is early

warning sign or signal detection, and preparation and prevention. So that you are

in a position to prevent crisis.

        Districts have done this in different ways and various institutions and

workplaces have done it in different ways, but there are essential elements. And

for prevention there is a need for policies. In school systems, for example, there

needs to be policies warning that students must treat each other with respect

and dignity, that intimidation and threats of violence will not be acceptable and

that students cannot engage in these behaviors without being subject to some

kind of punishment. There need to be procedures in place for people to be able

to report these kinds of incidents, and those procedures have to be confidential
and safe. The team might include administrators, teachers, students, parents,

the school nurse, the psychologist, the guidance counselor and the security

person. The team members should be able to deal with crises as they arise and

get counseling or other care for students who are in need of it.

       All of this involves a very important thing--TRAINING--with a capital T and

capital letters. It is necessary to train people to do this. It is necessary to train

students so that they can recognize these behaviors and so that they can know

what is acceptable in the school system and what is not.

Another component is what I call the “I”s--identification, information, intervention

and involvement:

    Identification of persons with potential for violence

    Information about how to respond

    Intervention by the crisis response team

    Involvement by parents and others in the community

       Finally, remember the three R‟s in crisis management:

         Referrals to appropriate counseling and services

         Readiness for anything that might happen

         Response to crisis should something happen in the end.

       TIA: I ask that we leave this slide up because I‟ve looked it now for a

number of years and each time I look at it I‟m always struck. Does anybody have
any idea, we can‟t claim that we made up this slide as dispute resolvers. Where

do you think this model came from? Any guesses? Yes? Business? Any

particular type of business?

       Q: From some type of business management, training for managers on

crisis management?

       Q: Some kind of government or nuclear war kind of thing?

Tia: That‟s interesting. Anybody else? I wouldn‟t have thought of it, either, but

actually it came out of studying disasters, such as the Challenger explosion or

the Bhopal toxic gas leak. When we‟re talking about crisis management, we‟re

actually talking about the folks who come in after the worst has happened and

help us to go on. There was some sense that this was very unsatisfying for

everyone, including the professionals involved, because it was purely reactive

rather than preventive.

       A major partner in Workplace Solutions is Dr. Mark Braverman. He calls

himself a recovering clinical psychologist. He is one of the inventors of the crisis

management field. He studied people with post-traumatic stress syndrome and

started noticing commonalities about them. In other words, it‟s really easy after

the football game to be the Monday morning quarterback because you already

know what‟s happened, so you can look back say, “Oh, all this was known. No

one took notice.” So all of our learning is behind the curve, in containment,

damage limitation, recovery. The question was whether we could get onto the
early side of the equation. That was the pioneering work, and it often involves

conflict resolution skills.


       First of all, I want to say that I‟m very pleased to be a part of such a

distinguished and knowledgeable panel. It‟s kind of unusual to sit next to past

president and past president and then nobody here on the end! [Laughter.]

       I‟d like to talk in some detail about the incidents in Springfield, Oregon and

also talk about Oregon in general because that‟s where most of my work takes

place. I want to set the stage a little bit.

       About five years ago--and, again, I‟m an employee of the Oregon

Department of Education--and at that time my specialty was peer-based

programs, conflict resolution, alcohol and drug prevention, civil rights. Those

were my areas of expertise. About five years ago, the superintendent came

down to my area and said, “Well, we need to have a contact person for violence,

and violence prevention and school safety for the Oregon Department of

Education.” And she said, “We really just want you to be the contact person in

case, you know, of a situation, we want somebody to have some expertise, and

somebody, you know, somebody to respond; it‟s probably not going to take any

more of your time.” At that time, you know, the area that I had some expertise in

was in conflict resolution and that‟s why I was selected. And I said, “Well, you

know, I do know a little bit about conflict resolution and I want to continue to, you

know, do training and technical assistance for schools and for students around
the whole range of skills associated with conflict resolution.” And I was thinking,

well, that‟s fine. You can just say I‟m also the contact for violence.

       Within about a year I realized that the area of conflict resolution was only

a small part of the overall field of school safety and violence prevention. I would

say it is an absolutely necessary and integral part, but yet a part of the whole

field. And I gradually became more knowledgeable about the different

components of violence prevention; and I think Marcia actually did a wonderful

job of presenting a framework for understanding what many of those

components are.

       But jumping forward a few years, when the violence and the murders in

Springfield, Oregon took place--and it‟s important to remember that they took

place in Kip Kinkel‟s home as well as on school grounds--it was a

community-wide tragedy. Immediately after that, it was a very high profile

problem. Violence was a high-profile problem in Oregon and throughout the

nation as a result of that incident and several others. And I heard people saying,

“We need to have conflict resolution in the schools. That was a very common

response. At the same time, I also heard people saying, “Well, conflict resolution

isn‟t going to make a difference in situations such as the one in Springfield with

Kip Kinkel.” And both sides have truth in their perspective on that.

       And so what I want to do is talk a little bit about what was in place in

Springfield that helped them address that situation, what was missing in
Springfield, and then tie that in with what I think are some of the necessary

ingredients for violence prevention in schools.

       In the Springfield School District they had actually had several ingredients

in place that are really strong and effective components of violence prevention.

They have a wonderful program in their elementary schools on addressing early

antisocial behavior. They have, you know, parent education. They have

interaction with other social service agencies. They provide strategies and skills

for children to develop prosocial behavior, to develop skills in anger management

and conflict resolution, empathy, and, in some cases, assertiveness. They have

a very strong program there. They started it about four years ago. The students

in high school missed out on that program. Again, a very wonderful program.

       The other thing that Springfield had in place that was really very strong is

they had provided years of training within their school district on crisis response.

They were well prepared for a crisis, as well prepared as almost any school

district in the State of Oregon. They weren‟t necessarily well prepared for what

happened and for trauma, but they were well prepared for crisis, That school

district, that city, that county mobilized in a way that is really a credit to that whole

community and the collaboration between the school, the city and the county.

They knew how to respond, and that was really a necessary ingredient in

violence prevention, in having that plan in place and the training for their staff.

       They also had a conflict resolution program in the high school, an

excellent program. They had peer mediation in the high school. I could go on and
list some of the things that they had in place. They had a lot in place. And one of

the real powerful issues right now in working with schools to prevent violence is

you need to have some strong programs. You need to have all strong programs

in order to really prevent violence and promote school safety; and in Oregon we

understand that that‟s not realistic at this time because of lack of resources,

because of lack of prioritization about what is important in schools. We

understand that it‟s not realistic to expect every school district to be prepared to

prevent violence and promote school safety and peace. Those are goals. Those

are goals down the road, and there were some pieces that were missing in

Springfield that are missing typically in most school districts and in most school


       In Springfield, what they lacked was--they lacked an overall violence

prevention plan that addressed the basic culture of the school. The students in

the school did not have education, perspective, training, skills around promoting

safety, peace and preventing violence in the school. There were so many young

students at Thurston High School who knew Kip Kinkel and who knew the

problems that he had. And there were many people who actually thought that he

posed a danger to students, family, communities. And a powerful part of school

culture for young people is not to share that information, not to tell, to be loyal, to

be supportive, to minimize, to hope for the best, to look on the bright side. The

students lacked that commitment to the safety of their own school. They didn‟t

have the training. They didn‟t have the background. They didn‟t know what to do.
They didn‟t know what steps to take. They didn‟t have the benefit of this recent

report on early warning signs. They lacked that, so it was missing in their culture.

       The staff also lacked that background and that perspective, and the

training to know how to respond. The teacher who read his English paper where

he described some very violent fantasies and wishes. That teacher didn‟t have

the training or the background to know how to take that seriously and what to do

with that information. So those were some things that were missing in the school

district. The school district has been working overtime to implement some of

those very crucial pieces that were missing. They also were lacking--and this is

true in Oregon, this is true throughout the United States--they were also lacking

some very important pieces in their policies and procedures. Kip Kinkel was

suspended. Law enforcement was notified. Kip Kinkel was charged. Kip Kinkel

was released to his parents. The school district, in collaboration with the city,

community, and law enforcement, did not have in place a procedure that

required him to be held for a period of time; and people are now proposing 24,

36, 48 hours. There are going to be a lot of bills in the legislature in Oregon this

coming year regarding school safety and changing laws and policies and

procedures. Some of those have been and will continue to be debated in the

Congress of the United States.

       But they didn‟t have that crucial piece in place. They also didn‟t have in

place an immediate assessment process for this young person. Is he a danger to

himself? Is he a danger to others? What support services, what mental health
services does this young person need? That wasn‟t in place. Crucial elements

were missing in the overall approach.

       The other element that was missing--and this was missing in most school

districts, and it can be addressed without resources--was the integration and the

collaboration of the social services. Who can provide what? Who gets referred to

whom? How do we communicate? How do we work together? How does the

school district work together with law enforcement? How does the school district

work together with mental health? How does the school district work together

with parks and recreation and after-school activities to look at it from a more

prevention healthy perspective as opposed to the reactive crisis perspective.

Those were some of the elements that were missing in the Springfield School

District at that time.

       I want to share with you some of the work that we‟re doing in Oregon and

a lot of our approach around violence prevention comes from the work of the

Harvard School of Public Health and the leadership of Deborah Prothroe Stith

around school safety. And what we have been doing in Oregon for about four

years now is encouraging school districts to develop comprehensive plans

around violence prevention and promoting school safety. Marcia has mentioned

all elements of the plan. What‟s essential is that there be a plan and that the plan

be comprehensive and that the plan include students, staff and all the sectors of

the community. These groups need to be involved in making the plan, and the

plan needs to address all of those different elements.
       Some of the things that we emphasize in Oregon, following the Harvard

School of Public Health model, is, first of all, education for the students. This is

very broad, and there are some pieces there that are absolutely essential. Skill

development is absolutely essential. Young people need to not only hear the

words, but practice the skills of anger management and problem solving. Some

of them need to develop the skill of empathy. We say, well, how can somebody

develop empathy? But empathy is a skill, and there are programs where young

people can develop that skill. Some young people need to develop the skill of

assertiveness. And it‟s kind of complicated when you‟re teaching these skills,

because some people are very high in empathy, and they don‟t really need those

lessons, and other people are very high in assertiveness but lack empathy. You

know, some people used to say, “Well, all our young people need is

self-esteem.” Some of the most violent people have very high self-esteem, so it‟s

a whole mix of skills that people need and we can teach those skills in schools,

and we can tie those skills to the other areas of the curriculum. They don‟t have

to be taught in isolation of writing and speaking and social studies and natural

science. Many of these skills can be taught within the curriculum. It is very

challenging to do that. It involves changing the way some of the instruction takes

place. But, again, that‟s one of the important areas.

       Support services: I think we all know that students need counseling and

opportunities to participate and they need health screenings and referrals and
assessments, all those sorts of things that have been cut in most schools over

the last several years. Those are absolutely necessary and essential.

       The school needs to have a plan to develop a safe climate for learning

and a safe environment. There are a lot of environmental changes that can be

made in schools that make the schools more safe, more welcoming, more

supportive, more respectful. That‟s all about school climate. We‟ve already

talked about this a little bit--schools need to have policies and procedures that

deal with issues of safety.

       One of the particular problems that I deal with a lot is the problem of

harassment and bullying in schools. And not only because it‟s really crummy to

be on the receiving end of harassment and bullying, and it‟s widespread. I think

we can all speak to our own personal experience having been on the receiving

end of bullying and harassment, or having witnessed it or having, you know,

children or friends be on the receiving end. We all know what it‟s about and for

years and years we‟ve just accepted that. We‟ve said, “Well, that‟s just part of

growing up. It‟s just part of being in the middle school. It‟s part of the culture of

junior high.” Well, that‟s not acceptable, because, as we know now, those are

also part of the early warning signs, some of the behaviors that escalate. But it

also makes people feel scared, intimidated, upset and not really happy about

being in school and not really focused on learning.

       So school climate is crucial. Collaboration we talked about. Working

together with law enforcement, with mental health, with parent groups, with parks
and recreation--all of that is really crucial. And when I say parks and recreation,

I‟m just saying that as an example, because one of the most effective strategies

around violence prevention in schools is to provide opportunities for young

people to contribute, to be healthy, to make healthy choices, to feel connected

because one of the early warning signs and one of the risk factors around

violence is alienation and isolation and association with peers who are also

alienated and isolated. And in years past, we used to think, well, maybe five or

ten percent of our students fall in that category, but as I talk with teachers and

students throughout the state of Oregon, I‟m hearing that that number is now

anywhere between 20 and 60 percent. So we‟re talking about a significant part of

our young people who are alienated, isolated and hanging out with other people

who have some of those same orientations.

       And then the last thing that I‟ll mention that we have really promoted in

Oregon is having in place an assessment process. Identifying what are those key

issues in your particular school. What are those key issues within individuals.

You know, if somebody like Kip Kinkel comes to the counseling office, do you

have somebody who can do an assessment of where he‟s at psychologically,

what are his social skills, what is he lacking, and then link him up with some of

the skills and services that that young person could receive. But it‟s also

assessing your school climate in general.

       There‟s been more work in the field of alcohol and drugs than in violence.

A lot of the work in violence prevention in terms of what is effective, is emerging
and has emerged over the last few years. But in the area of alcohol and drug

prevention, we have been encouraging schools for years to identify the most

significant risk factors in their schools and address those. So, if you‟re working in

an elementary school, and you‟re seeing a large number of students at the first

and second grade showing antisocial behavior, and you know that there are

programs and services that you can provide those students, maybe that‟s where

you want to focus your attention and your energy. You many notice that you

have a large group of seventh and eighth graders, and let‟s say it‟s even gender

specific, seventh and eighth grade boys who are having real issues with anger

and anger management.

       I just read in the newspaper yesterday that close to 40 percent of young

people say they would have difficulty controlling their temper in a difficult

situation and their decisions would be influenced by their anger in a lot of tight

situations. If you notice that that‟s a high priority, then you address that.

       As schools and communities are focusing on a comprehensive approach

to violence prevention, it also involves focusing on specific areas that you‟re

going to address. It‟s unrealistic to expect schools and school districts and

communities to do everything that‟s necessary, because there‟s a lot that needs

to be done. So what we need to do is focus on those areas of high need, and

focus on those programs and strategies that we know are going to make a


       The U.S. government, the Office of Personnel Management, has issued a

very innovative guide to workplace violence. They explained why we shouldn‟t

use the term “zero tolerance,” and the reason is not that we enjoy violence or its

consequences, but slogans tend to produce very brittle responses, leading to

overreaction and further isolation. As a special education mediator, I could tell

you that a special education student has a right to a due process hearing to see

whether there‟s a nexus between bringing a gun to school and the student‟s

condition. The challenge is to take our professionalism and marry it with our

common sense.

       But someone who never avoids tough problems is our next speaker,

Bonnie Castrey.


       . Let me just talk about what we‟ve done in Huntington Beach Union High

School District over the last year. As Tia indicated when she introduced me, I‟ve

been on the board, I‟m running now for my fourth term. I‟ve actually served all of

13 years. And in 1985 when I was elected, the teachers were sitting in, the

classified staff were about to go on strike, the administrators were unhappy. I

mean, things were just really not wonderful in terms of the labor/management

       It was pretty clear to me and to members of our community that not much

learning goes on in your classrooms if, in fact, all of this workplace disruption is

taking place. And while at that point we were not talking about workplace

violence in the same way and at the same level of awareness as we now talk

about it, I was real clear that something had to happen, and a board majority was

elected and they elected me President of the board, and the very first thing that

we did as a new board majority was to say, okay, how are we going to sit down

and create labor/management peace, because if we have labor/management

peace, then we‟re going to be able to affect the classrooms. Students should not

be choosing whether or not to picket with their teachers and classified staff. They

should be choosing to get educated in the classroom and to learn about labor

relations in a different format than actually being on a picket line.

       And so that was a real commitment from our board, that that needed to

change. So the first thing that we did was go back 18 months because the

negotiations had been going on for 18 months and were at impasse and to go

forward 18 months so that we negotiated a three-year agreement that had the

usual things. And I say the usual things in terms of salary and benefits and

working conditions, but, in addition to that, what we also said is that we, as

teams, labor and management, need to commit that we‟re going to change the

labor/management relationship, and that for the long term we‟re going to change

the work environment in the school district and the learning environment for our
young people. Those were two very different things to put into the agreement as

to how we were going to work together.

       So in 1986, keeping with that commitment, because I was elected at the

end of 1985, and so, in 1986, as we began to work together, we did a couple of

things. First of all, as Tia indicated, I came out of the Federal Mediation and

Conciliation Service, and they had a wonderful program called “Relationships By

Objectives.” We hired a superintendent whom we spoke with and interviewed

carefully in terms of really being a person who would, in fact, look at how to

develop a collaborative workplace. Because if you think back to 1985, schools

were not on the cutting edge of collaborative workplaces. And they were still very

top down in terms of management and we didn‟t want that. And so when we

hired the new superintendent, we made sure that that person really was into

working collaboratively with the labor organizations and that it wasn‟t just a

bunch of puff, that it was really going to happen.

       Then we hired John Popular, who was the person who wrote

“Relationships By Objectives,” to come in and work with our staff to actually

develop the process. And RBO, Relationships By Objectives, is a process for

defining the process for how it is that you‟re going to work together. And so

district-wide we did the RBO program and the classified staff decided that they

wanted to call theirs something else, and so while the process is similar in terms

of the collaboration process, it‟s called Team Building Through Communication,

      Out of that--and I only tell you that as underpinning for what else

came--out of that came the strategies for what we needed to do school by school

in terms of developing processes for working together at all of the school sites.

And one of the main problems that the staff identified was student discipline, and

that was a combination of the classified staff and the teaching staff and

administrative staff saying we really have issues around discipline. And when a

youngster misbehaves in a classroom we send him to the office. And there are

some teachers who seem to send young people to the office more than others,

and it almost has become a thing where if you misbehave in their classroom, you

know you‟re going to get sent out of class, so that it becomes a reward as

opposed to a punishment, if you will, that you shouldn‟t be doing this.

      So through RBO and TBC, the staff and faculty and administrators looked

at that and said, “What do we need to do?” And they developed together a

discipline matrix. For one, youngsters stayed in the classroom and were held

accountable for their behavior for disrupting the entire class, as opposed to being

sent out of a classroom. And that‟s where we actually started with our safe

schools. So it came out of the labor/management turmoil that had been going on,

moved to our classroom in terms of as we were able to start working together as

labor and management, then what happened was the discipline matrix. That was

through „86 and „87.

      What happened in „88 was a shock to our entire community, even though

it didn‟t happen on a campus. I should tell you, our school district has some
13,000--now almost 15,000--students, but we were declining. We service three

communities--Westminster, Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley and while

we‟re called Huntington Beach Union High, we actually work with those three


          In the City of Westminster, a young person, 16 years old, was murdered

on the streets. Our district felt that trauma very, very poignantly in terms of this

could have happened on one of our campuses. It was one of our students. And I

called the superintendent of schools, and I said, “Larry, we need to intervene

quickly. What have we got in place for our young people on that campus and on

the other campuses so that they can talk about it?” We went through our crisis

model as to what we had to move, and we moved in very quickly.

          I called Julian Klugman from the Community Justices Services, and said,

“Julian, what do you have available? There‟s nothing specific in the county of

Orange that speaks to peer mediation and we really need to move quickly.”

Julian came in with his staff of people and they trained a cadre of people at

Westminster High School, and that really is the root of our peer mediation

program which is still thriving today. And I should tell you as an aside, that Daniel

Millard, who has helped to chair for the last couple of years the youth program

here at SPIDR and has been a part of the youth SPIDR collaborative

programming for this conference, is a trained mediator from Westminster High.

And while the program started ahead of Daniel, because Daniel‟s just graduated

from high school, it‟s still in place and Daniel was very much a part of the movers
and shakers on that campus to keep it going and has become active in SPIDR.

So it really does work, and these young people really are wonderful at mediating

their own disputes.

       But let me go back to „88 because from the roots of that we worked with

the principal of the school, the superintendent. We worked through RBO and

TBC and continued to deal with what needed to happen on that campus, but as

the demographics of our school district were changing, what did we need to

happen on all of our campuses?

       And so the Board of Trustees worked with the community to begin to

develop the policies that needed to be in place for sexual harassment and

prevention thereof, for students as well as for staff, for zero tolerance policies.

But in coordination with the zero tolerance policies of not having guns and drugs

and alcohol and any kind of weapon on our school sites, what were we going to

do with the at-risk students in order to keep them within our school system?

Now, I‟ve indicated that we have eight schools, one of them is a continuation


       What we decided was that within our zero tolerance policy, rather than

putting young people out on the streets, because, once again, just as you don‟t

take them out of the classroom and have them be unaccountable for their

behavior, you don‟t put them out on the streets and have them unaccountable for

their behavior. What you do is somehow figure out a way to, yes, expel them

because they‟ve got to know the seriousness of the behavior of drug abuse,
alcohol abuse, carrying it on the campus possession, and/or drugs or guns or

anything else, and weapons, but also, what do we do for services?

       So we developed a policy whereby we have some guidelines and criteria,

but instead of simply expelling, within our continuation school and our

independent study programs we actually suspend the expulsion and then keep

that young person within our own school systems so that we maintain

accountability for what that young person is doing and responsibility. We bring in

the psychologist, the mental health people, the nurses. All the folks that need to

be involved with that young person and we keep them within our school system,

either in the continuation school which is Valley Vista or within the independent

study program, depending on their age, depending on what the violation has

been, what‟s going on, what kind of need that young person has.

       In most cases, we attempt to do a whole profile of that young person so

that we can begin to look at the indicators that Marcia very saliently went over to

see, you know, is there further awareness that we need to have, that we need to

put the staff in contact with. We do the same thing with our staff members.

Because, remember, we‟re a workplace. We don‟t often think of schools as

workplaces, but we are a workplace. In fact, Huntington Beach Union High is one

of the biggest employers in our three communities. We hire some 1,500 hundred

people. And for our small community, that‟s a large employer. The only one

larger than us is Boeing. And they have a right to be because they make these

huge jets. But we are a very large employer in our community.
       So for our employees we have, I think, probably the usual programs

where there‟s identification and concern, but we also will bring employees and

have counseling programs for them. We--and I need to be careful how I say this

so that confidences aren‟t broken--but we bring teachers who are having

problems or something traumatic has happened in a classroom into the district

office and put them on special assignments to work with them, or on medical

leaves. I mean, any of those things that are legal and appropriate. We work

closely with the labor organizations to help to provide services for faculty or staff

members who need those kinds of assistance. So we‟re attempting to do all of

the preventive pieces.

       In addition to that, in 1991 we had been downsizing for a number of years,

and we decided as we were beginning to develop an increased base of students

that we would go into strategic planning, and we are one of only 5 percent--and

this is an abominable figure, so that I hope that those of you involved in schools

will go back and ask your school district if you‟re part of the 5 percent--but we‟re

one of 5 percent of the districts across the whole United States that do strategic


       Now, the reason that I think that that‟s abominable is for everything that

John talked about. If, in fact, you have strategic planning and you know where

you‟re going five years or ten years into the future, you then can focus your

resources, both your fiscal resources and your personnel resources, into those

strategies so that you prevent problems like this, so that you deal with a safe
workplace and a safe environment for students to learn, but you also work on

your curricular issues. Well, why is that important?

       Your curricular issues have to do with what are we teaching young

people? How are we teaching history to teach conflict management skills? How

are we using history to teach prevention of violence? We don‟t need to repeat

what they‟ve done over and over again.

       The other day I went into one of our classrooms where the teacher was

looking at the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. He‟s a wonderful teacher. I said

to him, “Are you also connecting that to what we‟re doing in the United States of

America today in terms of the deterioration of our systems and what we‟re

doing?” And he said, “My gosh, Bonnie, I need to talk to the other history

professors because we need to look at that. There are direct parallels.” I said,

“These young people need to look at those direct parallels.” So there‟s no doubt

in my mind that we will begin looking in somewhat of a different way, and a part

of that, inherent in that, is the violence prevention. Because if you think back to

your Roman history, a part of what destroyed Rome was the violence and the

lack of ability to deal with problems effectively. Well, we don‟t need to do that

again. What we need to do is learn from them and say, okay, this is what we can

do to intervene to not do that again.

       The other thing that it does--that strategic planning did for us--was to put

in place a dress code; and school by school our youngsters were involved in the

strategic planning, our faculty, our staff, our community. Our parents were
involved in defining what the dress code was going to be on every one of our

campuses. And they‟re all different, because all eight of our campuses are

different, and we have different ethnic backgrounds on every one of our

campuses, so that we look different on every campus and we should be dressing

appropriately but it should meet the needs.

       We‟ve worked with our three cities as a result of this strategic planning to

say, what do we need to do? How can we pool our resources? I‟m sure all of you

have heard about Proposition 13, which has been a real killer in the State of

California; we have to make sure that the limited resources we have are put to

good use. So, among other things that we‟ve done with our cities are the


       We‟ve built skate board parks. Why? To keep our young people after

school in a safe environment. There is a park for them on a school campus. The

school provides the area, the city the funding.

       They also provide peace officers to be available in our three communities

but also on our campuses. They help us with the safety of the campus by

providing peace officers. Each city has provided two officers. Well, six officers is

not a great deal. That supplements, though, the eight officers that our staff has.

So that‟s been very helpful.

       With the county and the three cities, we hold monthly gang-prevention

meetings. Well, you say, Huntington Beach, California gangs? Yes! We have 36

identifiable gangs. Now, we‟re not proud of that, but what we are proud of about
that is that a) we know where they are, b) we know by and large who the gang

members are. We know which campuses they are on, c) we know that they‟re

not carrying on gang activities on the campuses so that our campuses remain

safe, and d) we‟re able to identify what‟s happening when a young person moves

from one school to another--whether or not they are, in fact, a member of any

particular gang.

       We also have a program of sniffing dogs that go onto the campuses on a

periodic basis, and those sniffing dogs look for guns, other weapons, drugs and

alcohol. Well, you say, how in the world did that come about, because, you

know, we‟re talking first amendment rights, we‟re talking, you know, a very

conservative community in Orange County, California. We held public hearings.

We had the peace officers at the public hearings. We had the dogs at the public

hearings. So that the community was able to get to know the animals. They were

able to get to know the animals‟ handlers. The young people were able to

become familiar with them, and they learned up front that these animals and

officers would be coming onto our campus on unscheduled visits. Only the

principal of the school knows. Even as a board member, I don‟t have a clue

when they‟re going onto campuses. So the security of when they‟re going is very

tight. As a result of that, only one person in three public hearings spoke against

having these animals coming onto the campus to sniff the lockers, not the young

people, to sniff the hallways, so that we knew if something was there, and then in

the cars in the parking lots and things like that so that we were able to track
down. And if, in fact, something is smelled in a car or anything, we have all of the

licenses and all registered. And one day, as a board member, I was on a campus

when the dogs were there, when marijuana was smelled in a car. The youngster

was pulled out of the classroom, the parents were called and identified, they

were asked to go to their car. It was held in a very dignified way. The youngster

was not accused or asked questions about what had happened, what was going

on. And, in fact, that youngster was not held because they were, in fact, not

responsible, but the fact is that there‟s early and quick intervention and

everybody knows that this is going to happen. It‟s not a surprise. The timing is a

surprise, but the fact that it goes on is not a surprise at all.

       Safety in the schools is the number one priority. We‟ve given $5,000 per

year per campus for all of our campus to get together and decide what they‟d like

to do campus by campus to ensure and increase safety, and that‟s everything

from painting restrooms and making sure that there are not swastikas and other

things on the restroom doors, because, like any other community, we have

people who believe in graffiti. We don‟t. So we try and keep it out of there. This

year when there was the burning of a cross off campus on a Jewish person‟s

front lawn, board members made contact with that family to find out what we

could. The community did. We were in touch with the police. We were able to

identify students from one of our campuses who had been involved in that; and

while it was off campus, off hours behavior, we are working with those young

people, because this kind of intolerant behavior is, in fact, intolerant in our
society today. And so those young people are being worked with so that they‟re

able to deal with their anger, deal with their anti-semitic feelings and to work

through what is acceptable behavior in this community. Are we perfect? No. But

are we working on it? Absolutely!

       We have a PAWS Program which is Peacemakers At Work, and within

that students go and they teach teachers and they go school to school, and they

teach tolerance, they teach mediation programs, they teach empathy, they teach

us how to work together. And we, as board members, will participate in that

because we believe that it needs to happen. That program a student wrote, a

student got a grant from NIDR, and the students continue.

       I will be happy to answer any questions about what it is we‟re doing within

our three communities, but we work closely with our cities, with our communities.

As a result, in our recent survey which is now five years old, our parents are

saying to us, 95 percent, we believe our schools are safe, and that‟s a very high

percentage. It doesn‟t happen without a lot of hard work. And all of our people

have worked together to make that happen. And our kids mediate every dispute

that comes forward. They‟re wonderful!

       TIA: I want to share with you the difference between a school with Bonnie

and John and Marcia and a school without. This is an actual exhibit from an

arbitration in a rural school district in the Northeast. At the time I became

involved, they hadn‟t had a collective bargaining agreement for about six years. I

think they‟ve just settled and it‟s close to ten years. I came in ostensibly because
a teacher, a long-time teacher, filed a claim of harassment against a board of

education member for something that happened at a public meeting of the

board. Several people had seized control of the board of education based on a

very anti-teacher platform. Some of the exhibits in the hearing were public letters

to the editor that board members had written accusing the teachers of “raping

our students.” On the other side were graffiti posted on the teachers‟ bulletin

board. The teachers had been operating a work-to-rule and were encouraged not

to proctor extracurricular activities. This is an actual slide of the graffiti. Below the

belt of the character labeled “the boss” are three bees. One says, “Kiss, Kiss,

what can I do, more field trips? Sure!” Another bee says, “Can I keep more kids

after school? Sure!” Yet another says, “Can I help take six classes? Sure!” Below

is a caption: “It‟s a swarm of suck-asses!” This was on a public teacher bulletin


         In another cartoon you see a big scimitar slicing through the initials of the

teachers‟ union. The grip of the scimitar is held by the school board, and there is

dripping blood. Think of Marcia‟s warning signs: one is violent drawings and


         And, finally, you see, the board‟s raised hands holding a dagger dripping

blood over a figure labeled “education in the district.” Pretty scary, when you

think of modeling behavior.

         In that particular case, there were no systems in place. Obviously, the

labor-management climate was so poisonous that the community was afraid of
something more explosive. We did make the grievance go away through

mediation. But neither the board member nor the teacher was very satisfied.

These are the kinds of challenges we have.

       In Michigan there‟s a case wending its way through the courts, stemming

from a grievance meeting. What happened is that a teacher filed a grievance

because he was aware that the school district was compiling a dossier of

complaints against him by students. At the hearing, which included the

superintendent, the principal, and his shop steward, who was a long time friend,

the teacher became so excited that he just ran out. He went home and got a

gun, muttering vague threats. His wife tried to stop him, and she decided to call

the regional office of the teacher‟s union. She didn‟t really know what else to do.

The negotiator whom she was trying to reach was actually in another district and

was about to ink a collective bargaining agreement that had been many years in

the making. It took him 20 minutes to get the message relayed from his

secretary, and he, in turn, called the superintendent‟s office to say that,

according to this teacher‟s wife, the teacher was coming to get the

superintendent and maybe they should all leave. It wasn‟t a

clearly-communicated warning.

       Well, sadly, the teacher carried out the threat. The superintendent was

killed. The shop steward, who was the shooter‟s friend of many years, was

wounded. The wife came in, pleading with the teacher to lay down his gun.

Eventually she and the wounded shop steward talked him down. This incident
came to our notice when we got a request for Dr. Braverman to testify as an

expert witness on the question of whether the union had a duty to warn the victim

(whose estate had brought a suit).

        The challenge is to put in place a system that can cope with the

unthinkable, the unpredictable. We need a multidisciplinary team that is engaged

in long-term planning, that is taking training and that is looking ahead to the

possibility of a crisis. We can never do enough to prepare.

       I should tell you that in the November, 1998, issue of the Dispute

Resolution Journal, published by the American Arbitration Association, I and two

Workplace Solutions co-authors have an article entitled, “Preventing Violence in

Schools: The Role of Dispute Resolution.” Those of you who are interested can

get a copy of that article.

       Q: I‟m with the Family Mediation Program of Resolutions Northwest here

in Portland. And we rely heavily on peer mediators who are trained as peer

mediators in high school and do apparent adolescent mediation, co-mediating

with adult mediators, and three of our team mediators are here today. My

question for you, John, is what motivation, encouragement, guidance, whatever,

do you provide for school districts to begin peer mediation programs in middle

and high schools? We really try to find teens who have peer mediation

backgrounds to come in and get additional training and work with families. But

it‟s not that easy to find high schools who really have strong peer mediation
programs in place; and I‟ve heard from all of the panelists how important peer

mediation is in peacemaking for adolescent and teens..

       John: I really appreciate the question because in my opinion and also

from the research, peer mediation programs, when they‟re done well, are some

of the most effective violence prevention and peace-promoting programs around

the United States. And there‟s a good base of research to support that. In

Oregon we are not in the position at the State Department of Education to

require or expect school districts to implement peer mediation programs. It‟s not

mandated through the curriculum in Oregon. What we are able to do--for the

schools that want to implement or begin or support a peer mediation

program--we are able to help them identify some resources, both financially and

also people in the state, including Resolutions Northwest, which is actually at the

top of my list of organizations that I refer them to.

       In Oregon, I think this coming year, the legislature is going to look more

carefully at including conflict resolution in the schools. And so there are a

number of legislators who are working on legislation to require schools to provide

both conflict resolution and peer mediation in all the school districts, and I think

that would be a very valuable step in the right direction.

       You know, I was actually moved as Bonnie was speaking just hearing of

the wonderful things that they‟re doing in Huntington Beach and really

highlighting the peer mediation program because that‟s what needs to happen.
And middle school, high school are very appropriate ages to introduce those


       The other thing that I want to emphasize, though, is that all students need

to learn the skills of conflict resolution and it‟s a developmental process and

there are different types of skills that are appropriate at different levels. I think a

peer mediation program is especially effective if the other students in the school

and the staff also have a common language and a common set of skills around

conflict resolution.

       Bonnie: Let me just hang onto that for a second. That‟s, John, why the

PAWS Program is so dynamic because what it does is in Peacemakers at Work

it introduces all young people and all the teachers eventually, and classified staff,

in the school district to conflict resolution strategies, if you will, without actually

making them peer mediators. Kinkel Because the young people really, then, are

able to open up and listen more. And they do things like the walking in your

shoes exercises and all, and having to take the opposite sides of arguments and

all of those things that help us to open up where we are and how we‟re thinking.

So that kind of a program gets it across an entire district without actually

meaning that every student has to be a peer mediator, although out of that we‟re

finding that more and more young people want to be trained, which is great.

       The other thing that happened to us is that as these young people went

home and started at the dinner table, as their parents were discussing things, the

young people said, “Wait a minute, time out,” and the parents wanted to know
where all this was coming from. The parents came to us at the school district:

“How come you‟re not teaching us these same skills.” And so we now have an

adult education program taught by our teachers and students to teach the

parents dispute resolution techniques, and so it‟s been wonderful in terms of

really infusing our community, and, obviously, we need to do a lot more of it.

       Marcia: I think Bonnie‟s right. These are really life skills and they‟re not

really taught in the classroom unless someone has an emphasis on conflict

resolution and mediation and peer mediation training. You can include in these

programs lots of communication skills training and training in learning how to

brainstorm, how to develop options, how to develop strategies, so that when you

find yourself in a situation, whether you are a young student or a high schooler or

an adult, you know there are other ways out. You are able to develop the

strategies and options which allow you to get out of situations that otherwise

might have felt like you were boxed in, alienated, isolated, alone and potentially


       Q: Are there easily accessible resources that list tools to help peer


       John: I‟ll start this with a very limited but very specific resource. The U.S.

Department of Education provides safe and drug-free schools dollars to all

school districts. That money can be used for conflict resolution and peer

mediation. And, in fact, some of the dollars could be better spent by focusing on

those skills that young people can acquire, but that‟s one immediate source that
is available to all public school districts. It‟s through the U.S. Department of

Education Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program.

       Bonnie: The National Association of Mediation in Education actually has

no monetary resources, but all kinds of books, curriculum, programs for

pre-kindergarten through college. There are things that very, very young people

in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten can learn. And they‟re all very focused to

age-specific developmental tasks for these young people.

       Marcia: There are also videotapes, workbooks, lots of resources available

for doing this kind of teaching and training.

       Q: I‟m Linda Davis, and I work in community mediation/dispute

resolution between neighbors as well as in the V.A. Medical Center in mediation

for a variety of labor/management issues. One of my concerns in the area of

violence, in representing both the alleged perpetrator and representing the

victims, is to guard against false reporting, yet still provide the accused with a

way to challenge statements being made about them. I‟m a little uncomfortable

with giving information to someone who has been accused regarding who made

the accusations, especially when there are threats of retaliation. How do you

deal with this, legally, ethically?

       John: It‟s a tough question. I‟m always willing to jump right in and begin

the process. Let me use the process of bullying and harassment that takes place

in schools quite often. The schools are not required to identify the person who

reports such an instance. So the schools have a lot of flexibility in the ways that
they address those instances. Sometimes it is very wise for a school not to share

with the accused perpetrator who the person is who reported that. And let‟s go to

the most extreme example.

       There were people who were afraid to report information on Kip Kinkle

because they were afraid for their own lives. They did not want to be the person

who had targeted or fingered him. And so, in the most dramatic sense, I have a

lot of concern for what you raised. But the schools do have a lot of flexibility in

the ways that they address those issues. Now, when you get into a legal

situation, then--I‟m going to refer to some of the experts on the panel here.. Or

experts in the room.

       Bonnie: Okay, and the answer was mostly workplace violence, that it‟s

not specifically VORP. And I had asked that because part of the background that

we have done is with the Victim-Offender Reconciliation. So, if, in fact, these

issues have come to us through one of the law enforcement agencies, and it‟s

been a matter of having the victim and the offender sitting down together and

working things out. For example, in one of our communities, some young people

had vandalized a church and put all kinds of graffiti and all around it. And so in

that case, we were able to bring together parts of the community from the church

community and the minister and the young people and all, and work out a

situation whereby the parents of the young people bought the paint and all and

then the young people repainted it. But because the police were involved in it,

the ability to provide a safe environment where the accusers and the accused
were able to sit down together, and the youngsters who did it were able to say,

“Yes, I did it,” and to reconcile what they had done in a positive way. There was

not--we didn‟t perceive, at least, the threat of ongoing retaliation.

       So I‟m trying to frame where there would be. And certainly in our

classrooms where a teacher is accused of inappropriately harassing or handling

a student or anything, we handle those very confidentially with a full investigation

from our personnel office, involving enough other people, i.e., other teachers,

other adults who may have been in the area. If the student has, in fact, stated

that other students might have knowledge, we talk with them. But always trying

to protect the young person who said that they did it. For a whole variety of

reasons, not the least of which is that they‟re scared to death that they‟re going

to flunk.

       So, in that sense, we try to include enough appropriate people. I mean,

obviously, you don‟t go out and scan the whole school for something, that you‟re

trying to identify enough appropriate people that the teacher probably doesn‟t

know, or the staff person probably doesn‟t know. On the other hand, if it‟s only

happened once, it‟s pretty hard to keep it quiet. But then the person who is doing

the investigation knows. And the person who does them in our school district is

very, very skilled. She happened to have come out of the psychology ranks. And

so she is very skilled at sitting and talking with people and counseling them, if

you will, in terms of appropriate behavior and not getting into retaliation. I think

that‟s an important piece of the formula, at least when we‟re dealing in schools,
and, I suspect, in all workplaces, as to how do you prevent retaliation because

the person who is the alleged perpetrator needs to know that whether or not it‟s

proven that they did it, that if they retaliate that creates another circumstance for

which they might be disciplined. And once again, we, also, as appropriate, work

with our labor organizations around all of these issues. So, I hope that‟s helpful.

       Marcia: I was going to say, in the early stages of any investigation it‟s

often possible to provide confidentiality for those who report various kinds of

events and incidents. But as you go down the line, it‟s much harder to maintain

that confidentiality. For example, in a unionized work force, you may have people

who report incidents of harassment by supervisors and co-workers and the like,

and you might have confidentiality to those reports. But if action is taken against

the alleged perpetrator, then those reports are going to become available to the

union. It will have a right, in preparing a case that goes to grievance arbitration,

to look at those reports and call those people as witnesses; and those folks may

also be called upon by the employer to provide testimony to support the

employer‟s action in the case. So it‟s very hard, as you get down the road, to

provide that kind of confidentiality throughout a process.

       Tia: In upstate New York there have been efforts to use the

victim-offender mediation model to reintroduce kids who have been suspended

for threatening teachers and others. The student is brought together with the

teacher. It‟s not just the old brittle response—you‟re out, you‟re isolated.
        Q. I‟m Patti Williams and I work for the Hillsboro, Oregon, Police

Department and I coordinate a community mediation program within our agency,

plus a collaborative partnership with our school district. And I just wanted to

identify another possible funding resource for community programs and for

schools. We work very actively with the Department of Justice and received a

relatively large grant under a crime prevention purpose, and we are working with

out schools. We‟ve contracted to get them trainers. We have just purchased

about $15,000 worth of resource materials for them, and we are in the belief that

we need to start at kindergarten to teach these kids these skills. If we wait until

they‟re in junior high and high school, we‟ve lost too many of them. So we

are--starting with our kindergarten this year, we‟re giving all of our kindergartens

in the Hillsborough School District free conflict management, anger management

curriculum for the kindergartens. Next year we‟re going to do the first grade. As

the money comes in, you know, we have to do these grants as they come. But

the police department and the schools need to be those partners. The bridge

that we build with our schools has just been incredible. So I would encourage the

schools to get in there, partner with your local law enforcement agencies

because they have a way, an avenue, a path, to get to that federal money as a

crime prevention tool, to get you money for putting together these peer

mediation, conflict management, and anger training programs that the schools

       Q: I‟m Lauren Burton. I‟m the Executive Director of Dispute Resolution

Services in Los Angeles. We have a comprehensive mediation and conflict

resolution program in the schools in Los Angeles, and Santa Monica, and Malibu

Unified School District. Anyone who‟s interested in finding resources should look

locally, first of all, to your community dispute resolution center, because they

already may be engaged in this work or they may be planning to engage in this

work. In California, legislation was passed a couple of years ago to take drug

forfeiture money and allocate it to the county office of education for grants of up

to $7,000 per school on an annual basis in grants through an RFP process.

       Q: My name is Allison Kelley, and I‟m from Salem, Oregon and I‟m a

recent graduate from law school. And I was really just responding to Linda‟s

question about helping a perpetrator understand that there‟s a problem without

identifying the victim. When I was in law school, I served as a student sexual

harassment advisor. I worked in conjunction with a professor, we worked as a

team; and we had an established policy that provided for formal and informal

resolution of disputes. And we set up a system where we could help the victim

notify the perpetrator, either through an anonymous letter or we would actually

hold a conference with the perpetrator to help them understand that there is a

problem. And the basic message at that point was simply that the student wants

this behavior to stop. And, of course, these always occurred right before finals,

which put the students under the worst possible pressure, but we found it was

very effective and that was one way to handle it.
       Tia: If you‟re interested in that issue, read the articles connected with our

project, Workplace Solutions, which is the multidisciplinary team that goes in to

assist institutions, including school districts, to put in comprehensive programs.

One resource is “An Attorney‟s Guide to Drugs in the Workplace,” which I have a

few copies of. Any of these items can be downloaded from our web site. So I‟ve

left a card here with our web site, and, you know, we‟d like to hear from you.

We‟d like to keep in touch. The kind of challenges we‟ve been talking about

means that we need each other. We really can‟t do this in isolation. No one

discipline, no one person, no one organization will have the answers, and the

enemy of really getting these things done is any sort of complacency on our part.

It‟s true we can be proud of the things we do, but the challenges are never

ending, you know, even to the extent that you get systems in place. They have to

be appropriate for today‟s institutions, today‟s schools, today‟s students, so what

worked a few years ago may really need fine tuning. So let me just turn it back to

the panel. You‟ve really been a fabulous group to spend two hours with. We‟ve

really enjoyed your remarks and your sharing of your own experiences with us.

So why don‟t we go in reverse order, back to John Lenssen.

       John: Just a couple of closing words. The first one is I want to encourage

everybody to get involved with your schools, whether you‟re a student, staff,

parent, community member. Get involved with your schools. Ask, do you have a

comprehensive violence prevention school safety committee? Or do you have

something similar to that. Get involved. And, also, I was really inspired, as I said
earlier, by Bonnie‟s words. Run for school board. You know, absolutely! Don‟t

minimize your ability to be a leader in this field. Get on your site council. And if

your focus isn‟t the schools and your focus is the workplace, do the same thing in

your workplace. Become an active participant in planning around safety and

violence prevention and then really, really support those valuable programs

around conflict resolution which are a crucial piece in these programs.

       Bonnie: Encourage people to run for school board--because we really do

need more and more people who have conflict resolution skills. We also need

just plain, good people to run for our school boards, people who don‟t have

agendas besides the best interests of our young people. We need to create an

environment for learning that really does, in fact, work well for our young people

and as a workplace for our faculties and staff and all.

       The other thing that I would really encourage, that active participation is

important, but remember that those of us in conflict resolution, both the young

people in the room as well as the adults in this room, we need to consistently

model behavior for conflict resolution. One of the saddest days of my life as a

school board member was when we were working with the Gay and Lesbian

Student Alliance on one of our campuses and the community, the adults in our

community, came forward and talked about those scumbag kids. And I went to

those people, first of all publicly I had a few things to say which never makes me

very popular. But that‟s okay--I‟m respected, at least--but I went to those people

individually and sat down and talked with them and said, “Do you realize the
message that you‟re sending to a whole community of people”? The second

saddest day of my life was when we were working with the city and putting a

great deal of money into a land development project. One of the things that

needed to happen was to move the Continuation School from where it was to

another city, to Fountain Valley, where we had another piece of land. Once

again, our community and a couple of people from the city council did not

provide very good modeling, because they got up and talked about not wanting

those kids in their neighborhoods.

       So we need, every day, every single minute, as adults, as dispute

resolvers, to model the behavior, to speak with neutral words that are well put,

and we have a real responsibility and an absolute accountability to this world to

make sure that we model that behavior. Because when we all die, the only thing

they‟re going to be able to say about us is whether or not we went out with

integrity. And as dispute resolvers, we have a very high calling in this life to go

out as peacemakers, with integrity and dispute resolution skills always being


       Marcia: Despite all the dire news and tragedy you‟ve heard here, I want to

assure you that most schools, in fact 98 percent of them, are safe and secure

and have not had any violent incidents in the last year or two. So we‟re talking

about a microcosm. But any one single incident is very important, because we all

send our children off to school assuming they‟re not only going to learn

something, but they‟re going to have a safe and secure day. But we need to do
something to counter the very negative messages, and the very violent

messages that our children received. We need to do something to counter all the

very negative, violent messages that our children receive every day through the

media, through the newspapers, through television, through the cartoons they

watch, through the video games they play and through the films that they see.

And I think that this is a very good start, and I commend Oregon for being

involved and for other places that are getting involved in conflict resolution, in

peer mediation, and things that will make schools an even safer place for our

children. Thank you.


To top