No bullying cases were reported in Delaware City Schools in 2020, and district officials are thanking bullied students for suffering in silence.
During the Feb. 15 DCS Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Heidi Kegley reported there were zero bullying cases reported last year, despite a surge in suicidal thoughts and negative mental health effects stemming from the pandemic. She noted the lack of cases could be in part because students were crying alone at home and had limited access to faculty.
“What the data shows us is that we’re really doing a good job of remaining in the dark in order to avoid responsibility for our students’ wellbeing. Our job is to prepare them for the real world and there is no better way to do that than to remind them that they should keep to themselves and endure their existential agony alone like an adult,” Kegley said. “As a district, we really take pride in our ability to model maladaptive behavior and hypocrisy in practical ways. We aren’t just pretending to not care; we truly do not. I think that’s what sets us apart from other school districts. I am really proud of our staff and students.”
Assistant Superintendent Craigy Heathbar said Friday the board’s policy defines bullying as “any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another student more than once, and the behavior both causes mental or physical harm to the other student and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student.”
Heathbar said he has complete confidence that none of those things were happening in the district last year, at least not in a quantifiable way that would make the district responsible for doing anything about it.
“Look, Delaware is a special place, we all know that. Things are different here,” Heathbar said. “Our students aren’t normal students. They’re the type of kids who can give you a firm handshake and then turn away before you see the tears welling up in their eyes. That’s Pacer Pride.”
Dozens of bullied students spoke at the meeting and agreed that the district was doing a great job ignoring their indirect pleas for help.
“For the past year, I have been trying to remain positive and find joy by making videos on TikTok, but my classmates constantly comment on my videos and tell me that my face looks like the surface of Mars after a nuclear explosion. As a result, I have started pulling my hair out and developed an eating disorder so that I can get fat and star on My 600 lb Life,” said Eleanor Musk, a junior at Delaware Hayes High School. “I consider taking my own life on a daily basis, but instead of talking through those feelings with an adult, I remind myself that I am almost an adult, and that I alone am capable of deciding whether I should live or die. There is no one to help me. I was born alone and I will die alone. Without the Delaware City Schools, I don’t think I would have realized that until my mid thirties, because I would have had a chance at living that long.”
Director of Elementary Curriculum and Assessment Joseph Eichmann said the district is planning to continue to develop their anti-awareness policies and practices for years to come.
“The district and buildings will continue to cultivate our bullying anti-awareness frameworks, as well as a comprehensive plan to train all staff in nonobservance practices over the next few years,” Eichmann said.