DPS team builds bridge between schools and parents

DENVER — Many people traditionally think of bullying as encounters in the hallways and on the playground at school, but in an age of social media, school administrators say it’s inescapable.

“Now, you can’t even go home and get a break from it,” said dean of students at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Early College Derek Hawkins. “It has really gotten worse. It’s very easy for someone to bully another person that they don’t see.”

Hawkins says over the past couple of years at MLK, he’s noticed a decrease in bullying between students, attributing that to teachers and administrators establishing trust with students.

For parents looking for an outlet if their kids are being bullied, Denver Public Schools has a team dedicated to helping.

“They feel like the school has not appropriately addressed it,” said manager of DPS family constituency services Elizabeth Battle. She runs one of the divisions of the DPS Family And Community Engagement, or "FACE," team.

“Our goal in total is to help families and schools work effectively together,” Battle said.

Battle says the FACE team will sometimes serve as mediators between parents and the school, making sure both sides are being heard.

“A lot of times, we can’t share what disciplinary actions a student received, but we can help a parent understand the discipline matrix and how it’s used," Battle said.

Part of that is also outlining distinctions between a pattern of bullying and a one-time occurrence. MLK Early College principal Kimberly Grayson says calls to the FACE team have gone down for their school because of their open-door policy.

“FACE is that gap between or the missing link between parents and school to building that relationship,” Grayson said.

The team also assists parents with a whole host of other issues, including complaints with teachers, grades, enrollment, special education services or transportation.

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