Breaking News

David Leroy Nelson sentenced to prison (11/24/21)

On November 24, 2021, David Leroy Nelson, 57, of Nelson, MN was sentenced to 51 months in prison for one count of criminal vehicular homicide in the death of Verlyn Strenge of Clearbrook.


On November 20, 2020, Nelson had a blood alcohol content of .267, more than three-times the legal limit, when the pickup he was driving struck two vehicles in downtown Bagley. The crash resulted in serious injuries to Verlyn Strenge and his wife Merry. Verlyn passed away on December 6, 2020 as a result of his injuries. Merry Strenge has still not fully recovered from the injuries she sustained.


At the time of the crash, Verlyn was serving as the pastor of First Baptist Church in Clearbrook.


Statements made at the sentencing by Jayme Nelson, Strenge’s daughter, on behalf of the victim’s family and Pastor Rick Moore on behalf of First Baptist Church, noted that forgiveness was given to Mr. Nelson and that they had prayed for him and will continue to pray for him.


Additional details will be included in the next issue of the Farmers Independent.

November 22, 2021 is proclaimed “Randy Goodwin Day” in Minnesota
Bullying in schools – is it happening here? (11/15/21)

By Darin Steindl


Bullying in schools has become national epidemic. On the website, data from surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Bureau of Justice, indicated that 19-20% of students ages 12-18 had experienced bullying within the 12 months prior to completing the survey.


Students reported that they had experienced bullying in various places in the school including hallway or stairwell (43.4%), classroom (42.1%), cafeteria (26.8%), bathroom or locker room (12.1%), somewhere else in the school building (2.1%). They also experience bulling outside on school grounds (21.9%) and online (15.3%).


Types of bullying reported in the surveys were – being the subject of rumors or lies (13.4%), being made fun of, called names, or insulted (13.0%), pushed, shoved, tripped, or spit on (5.3%), threatened with harm (3.9%), having others try to make them do things they did not want to do (1.9%) and having property destroyed on purpose (1.4%).


Does bullying lead to suicide? According to the website, the relationship between bullying and suicide is complex. The authors state that “it is not accurate and potentially dangerous to present bullying as the “cause” or “reason for a suicide, or to suggest that suicide is a natural response to bullying.” They go on to say that research indicates that persistent bullying can lead to or worsen feelings of isolation, rejection, exclusion, and despair, as well as depression and anxiety, which can contribute to suicidal behavior. The vast majority of young people who are bullied do not become suicidal and that most young people who die by suicide have multiple risk factors.


On Nov. 10, there was a Facebook post in the Bagley Chit Chat group about bullying. After reading through many comments that contained questionable statements, I reached out to the school administration to find out how they handle bullying in our schools.


Mark Benson, Principal of Bagley High School, explained that the current school board policy #514 addresses bullying in the school. The entire school policy #514 can be read here. The report form is available here.


In summary, the policy states – An act of bullying, by either an individual student or a group of students, is expressly prohibited on school premises, on school district property, at school functions or activities, or on school transportation. This policy applies not only to students who directly engage in an act of bullying but also to students who, by their indirect behavior, condone or support another student’s act of bullying. This policy also applies to any student whose conduct at any time or in any place constitutes bullying or other prohibited conduct that interferes with or obstructs the mission or operations of the school district or the safety or welfare of the student or other students, or materially and substantially interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or performance or ability to participate in school functions or activities or receive school benefits, services, or privileges. This policy also applies to an act of cyberbullying regardless of whether such act is committed on or off school district property and/or with or without the use of school district resources.


Regarding the reporting of bullying instances, the policy states – Any person who believes he or she has been the target or victim of bullying or any person with knowledge or belief of conduct that may constitute bullying or prohibited conduct under this policy shall report the alleged acts immediately to an appropriate school district official designated by this policy (editor’s note: that person at the high school is John Sutherland, Dean of Students).  A person may report bullying anonymously. However, the school district may not rely solely on an anonymous report to determine discipline or other remedial responses. The school district encourages the reporting party or complainant to use the report form available (514F Bullying Incident Report Form) from the principal or building supervisor of each building or available in the school district office, but oral reports shall be considered complaints as well. The building principal, the principal’s designee, or the building supervisor (hereinafter the “building report taker”) is the person responsible for receiving reports of bullying or other prohibited conduct at the building level. Any person may report bullying or other prohibited conduct directly to a school district human rights officer or the superintendent. If the complaint involves the building report taker, the complaint shall be made or filed directly with the superintendent or the school district human rights officer by the reporting party or complainant.


Within three days of the receipt of a complaint or report of bullying or other prohibited conduct, the school district shall undertake or authorize an investigation by the building report taker or a third party designated by the school district. The building report taker or other appropriate school district officials may take immediate steps, at their discretion, to protect the target or victim of the bullying or other prohibited conduct, the complainant, the reporter, and students or others, pending completion of an investigation of the bullying or other prohibited conduct, consistent with applicable law. The alleged perpetrator of the bullying or other prohibited conduct shall be allowed the opportunity to present a defense during the investigation or prior to the imposition of discipline or other remedial responses. Upon completion of an investigation that determines that bullying or other prohibited conduct has occurred, the school district will take appropriate action.


Such action may include, but is not limited to, warning, suspension, exclusion, expulsion, transfer, remediation, termination, or discharge. Disciplinary consequences will be sufficiently severe to try to deter violations and to
appropriately discipline prohibited conduct. Remedial responses to the bullying or other prohibited conduct shall be tailored to the particular incident and nature of the conduct and shall take into account the factors specified in Section
II.F. of the policy.


Benson stated that only one incident had been reported at the high school this year. Benson went on to explain that sometimes these investigations take time because of incomplete or conflicting information. Benson gave an example of an incident where a student reported that another student had made a verbal threat. In the course of the investigation it was found that the student making the report hadn’t heard the threat directly from the other student but had heard about it from another student. After other students were interviewed, it was determined that what the reporting student had heard wasn’t what the accused bully had even said.


Benson shared his belief that educators – teachers, paras, and administration, take their responsibility for the health and safety students very seriously. The ongoing pandemic has been stressful on the school staff and Benson has been pleased with how the teachers and other staff have worked together to meet the needs of the students.


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