United Way of Frederick County has fully funded and launched a program to combat bullying in Frederick County Public Schools.

The program, which will be implemented in county middle schools, consists of six modules designed to increase students’ understanding of how to properly address scenarios involving topics such as when and how to intervene, communicating properly, and following steps to make smart decisions.

The United Way Worldwide and NFL partner program, called Character Playbook, was piloted last year, and has reached a total of 36 schools, 3,449 students, with 12,058 modules completed in the region.

Character Playbook was designed for middle school students as a way to prioritize the issue of bullying as well as the rapidly increasing suicide rate as a result of bullying and other behavioral health factors. Bullying was identified as the top concern of families in the 2016 Frederick County Office for Children and Families Local Management Board Needs Assessment.

The Frederick County Human Relations Commission lists bullying as its number one concern in a survey completed last year. The suicide rate has increased to roughly 24 deaths per year since 2012, which made the United Way see the need for the program.

“Character Playbook provides our middle school students access to real-life situations and allows them the ability to problem-solve and determine appropriate responses to scenarios involving healthy relationships with others,” Janet Shipman, coordinator of school counseling and student support with Frederick County Public Schools, said in a news release.

Frosh joins other AGs
in calling out DeVos

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh has joined a coalition of 18 attorneys general in sending a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, demanding that the Department of Education stop rolling back critical protections for student loan borrowers, Frosh’s office said in a news release.

“Yet again, Secretary DeVos is showing her allegiance to lenders and lobbyists over Maryland consumers and students,” Frosh said. “We urge Secretary DeVos to direct her focus back on those she actually serves: the students.”

An Aug. 31 letter from the Department of Education terminated two memorandums of understanding with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

In the letter, the 18 attorneys general said “the Department of Education falsely asserted it has exclusive jurisdiction over companies that service federal student loans when, in fact, student loan servicers are under the jurisdiction of the CFPB, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, Attorneys General and other law enforcement agencies.”

The 18 attorneys general in the letter are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Washington, as well as the executive director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection.

“Contrary to the Department’s assertion, Congress did not exempt the $1.3 trillion federal student loan market from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s jurisdiction — or from the jurisdiction of any other law enforcement agencies,” the letter said. “Not only is the department’s assertion demonstrably false, but such an exemption would make no sense — the market for federal student loan servicers is bigger than any other consumer finance market except mortgages. Moreover, student loan borrowers, who in most cases cannot discharge their student loans through bankruptcy, are among the most vulnerable borrowers.”

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

Allen Etzler is a city editor at the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at aetzler@newspost.com.

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