Petition to address bullying

Former student requests Islip district officials to take action, with support of 640


A recent Islip High School graduate has created an online petition in an effort to raise awareness of bullying that he claims he witnessed and experienced in the district.

Frank J. Neri III, Class of ’20, said he started the petition “Force Islip High School to take Action on Favoritism and Mistreatment of Students” on Nov. 19. The public petition had over 640 signatures from supporters as of Monday, Nov. 30.

A University of Albany freshman, Neri, 18, said he was bullied throughout his freshman and sophomore years while he was on the Islip High School wrestling team.

“I loved the sport, but I felt like the treatment from my teammates was just awful,” Neri said.

It reached its peak during his sophomore year, he said, after one of his teammates intentionally urinated on his wrestling gear. The incident did not go unnoticed by administrators, Neri said, though he said he was disappointed that the involved student was only briefly suspended.

The petition was started just one day after an Islip High School student with autism went missing. According to a town press release, the student went missing Wednesday, Nov. 18, around 3:30 p.m.

Social media posts about his absence appeared in some Islip-based Facebook groups, and that evening, the Town of Islip released an e-Alert notifying community members that the teen could not be found.

At approximately 2:05 a.m. Nov. 19, the student was found by town sergeant Ed Carter, park ranger Anthony Lagrasta and park ranger Joseph Esposito near Brookwood Hall in East Islip.

Neri said though he does not know the student that went missing, he was prompted to create the petition after he noticed the Islip High School Instagram account, @Isliphs, left a comment on an Instagram Live story posted by the runaway teen, which read: “This is Ms. Ward. You should not be doing this until after the school day. Students need to be learning right now.”

The Islip Bulletin was unable to confirm if the comment was written by high school assistant principal Lisa Ward.

Neri said that he changed the title of the petition from “Force Islip High Schools A. Principal Lisa Ward and Superintendent to Step Down” to its current title after it was online for roughly two days. He said he modified the title because he wanted to shift blame away from the two district administrators; bullying is a widespread issue.

“I want the district to say they are aware of the petition and how everyone feels,” he said. “That ‘we want to make everyone at the high school feel welcome.’ Maybe we could have more strict punishments for bullying.”

Superintendent Ellen Semel said that the district does not tolerate any form of bullying. Any reports of behaviors or actions found in violation of the district’s nondiscrimination policy is referred to, and immediately handled by, Dignity for All Students Act coordinators, Dr. Semel said.

According to the New York State Department of Education, DASA was established by New York State officials to protect all students from harassment, bullying and discrimination. It became effective on July 1, 2012 and was amended to include cyberbullying July 1, 2013. DASA coordinators make sure that a district is following DASA protocols.

“Islip School District is committed to providing a safe and welcoming school environment,” Dr. Semel stated. “We strive to provide an educational and working atmosphere that promotes respect, dignity and equality. These values are reflected in the programs we provide our students and we regularly engage our entire school learning community in proactive social-emotional learning programs.”

Semel stated that from Islip’s youngest students to its rising seniors, “all are engaged in conversations, lessons and activities designed to encourage them to make positive life choices and collectively build a sense of inclusivity, both within our Islip community and beyond.”


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