November 21, 2014

Mostly cloudy

Safety a calling for Elyria Schools veteran

ELYRIA — Kelly Luter’s childhood story about being bullied by adolescent peers garnered the support of several middle schools three years ago when she decided to form the Eastern Heights Anti-Bullying Taskforce.

Her admission of being picked-on and ridiculed as a child let the middle-schoolers know they had a kindred spirit in Luter, a media specialist with a passion for coaching basketball, track and cross country.

Now, her goal to help students avoid being the targets of bullies will be what fuels her in her new position with the district.

Starting next school year, Luter, who has been with the district for nine years, will be employed as the district’s school climate coordinator. The position was created to address the most important issue of public education beyond academics — safety.

“When kids feel safe, they perform better,” Luter said.

Superintendent Paul Rigda announced Luter’s new role in the district earlier this month during his annual State of the Schools address. At that time, he boasted how the job would not cost the district money as it was just taking a current employee and giving that employee new responsibilities. Luter’s salary will be $56,000.

Luter’s role is more than just teaching and interacting with kids in a different way, said Dawn McCreedy, Elyria’s director of pupil services.

McCreedy envisions Luter as the coordinator of calmness, both in the buildings and among students. She will be in charge of coordinating all of the district’s anti-bullying efforts, working with the student conduct coordinator on the Positive Behavior, Interventions and Support program and keeping the district on all Safe Schools initiatives.

“It will be an easy job for her. She was doing the job before we gave her the title because that is her passion,” McCreedy said. “We didn’t create this job for Kelly. We knew we needed to fill this position and we saw that we already had everything we were looking for in Kelly. She was already walking the walk.”

Typically, when an active anti-bullying group starts at a school it is the result of some sort of tragedy — a child commits suicide or threatens to physically harm a peer. But Luter said none of that was going on at Eastern Heights when she decided to get students involved in the cause.

“But it was happening all over the world. Kids were killing themselves and each other because they were hurting,” she said.

Luter’s group at Eastern Heights started with 84 students at the first meeting and has consistently stayed near that number, even though the requirements for joining the group are tough. Students have to write a one-page essay explaining why they want to join, sign an anti-bullying pledge, attend mandatory meetings and keep up their grades. Students not only share their anti-bullying message with other Eastern Heights students, they also visit other schools in the district.

“We go to the elementary schools so we can stop bullying before it starts,” said Eric Cray, 12, a seventh-grader. “It helps kids to understand how bullying affects kids’ lives.”

Eric said he was bullied in elementary school and felt some anxiety about going to middle school, but the anti-bullying group has done its job in diminishing those fears. He joined last year when he was in the sixth grade.

“I can honestly say I feel safe here,” he said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or

  • Honest

    This position was created by the district specificially for Kelly Luter after her position as a media specialist was eliminated in the lastest reduction in force. The sole purpose of which is to provide a false sense of safety that simply does not exist in the Elyria City Schools after the Sandy Hook tragedy. The statement regarding the cost to the district is misleading in the best possible light.

  • Taxpayer

    I was glad to hear Kelly Luter’s position wasn’t created because of the fact she could bump out a coach’s at EHS. Heaven forbid we wouldn’t want disrupt the Football coaches who also is a PE teacher’s position which is who Luter would have bumped. I guess all of those counselors in the district with years and years of experience aren’t qualified enough to work with the bullying problems in the district. How wrong of me to assume the ECS District was trying to deceive the public once again with their reasoning for creating a new 2 year program when lots of qualified staff members were just as qualified for that position and applied and interviewed. Once again the district is trying to snowball the public with their web of lies and deceits.

    • Jackson

      Hogwash (what I want to call it, I know I cant). Here we are losing one of the BEST Assistant Principals that the Elyria City School District has, and now this big write up on this newly “created position” that they say will not cost the School District any money, just giving someone “new” responsibilities. I guess they don’t have enough confidence in ALL the Counselors that are there for A REASON and they’re saying to them in so many words that “with all your experience, training, and Degrees, we feel that your NOT qualified in this particular area.” Hmmm, well what are they there for? Pretty soon I guess they’ll send the same message to EPD and the Schools Security Enforcement Officers too, as they are there to make sure these kids feel safe AND are safe from any type of harm when they go to School to learn. But something just DOESNT seem right here, I agree 100% with Taxpayer, but I will say this, I don’t care what the Elyria City Schools put on the Ballot, it’ll ALWAYS be a NO Vote, too many issues going on year after year, and it just doesn’t make sense. Where is ALL the money going to that the Ohio Lottery claims that they give to the Schools? The School Board REALLY needs to RE-THINK their decision on the Renewing of the Assistant Principal’s Contract, was it really really necessary not to Renew it, could they have found another area in the School District to cut from? Could some of those at the top in the “higher” pay range taken a pay cut, but would still be making 6 figures? Of course, but we all know that would never happen, it’s not them losing their job. But one things for certain, it’ll come a time when “their” name will appear on a Ballot for Re-Election or on a list of potentially losing their job. Then how will they feel when their name is pulled or doesn’t appear on the list to continue to hold their current position? What goes around, most definitely comes around.