A Policy To Prevent Bullying

Towards Respectful Relationships Within and Without Schools

1. PURPOSE AND SCOPE

It is the intention of the Triton  Regional School District to provide an educational   and  working  atmosphere   for   students,   employees  and visitors in which they feel physically and emotionally secure.

This policy  reflects the requirements  of the law as it relates to bullying, and  the  School  Committee’s   understanding  that  students  and  staff perform  at  their   best  when   they  are  free  from   a  hostile   working environment.

It is the responsibility of every employee, student, volunteer and parent/guardian to recognize acts of bullying and take every action necessary to ensure that the applicable  policies  and procedures  of this school district are implemented.

Prevention & Intervention Plan

The  Anti-Bullying Plan  set  out  below  is the  district’s  response  to the  requirement of M.G.L. Chapter  71, Section  370. It represents  the framework  for the implementation of the district’s Anti-Bullying Policy.  Read More.

In order to achieve the intention to provide an atmosphere in which  staff and students feel physically and emotionally secure, the school district will:

  1. implement the new statute concerned with bullying;
  2. establish  clear  expectations  regarding  behaviors  that  are not acceptable;
  3. establish responsibilities on the part of staff, students, volunteers, and parents for responding to unacceptable behavior;
  4. provide training for  all  categories of personnel  and volunteers and make available  training for parents, with the aim of ensuring that  there is a consistent  and informed response to unacceptable behaviors;
  5. ensure that developmentally appropriate curricular experiences are provided at all grades with the aim of fostering  respectful relationships;
  6. establish  protocols   for  the  investigation of  alleged  unacceptable behavior, and the recording  of the outcomes of such investigations;
  7. liaise with community based organizations with an interest in the
  8. development of resilience among youth, and respectful relationships within schools and the community; and
  9. regard  this  policy   document  as basis for  the  district’s plan  for responding to harassment in schools in all its forms, as required  by the statute.

Schools tend to reflect the communities they serve. It is therefore understood  that   the  creation   of  a  culture   within  schools  and  the community in which  adults and students feel emotionally and physically secure  is  the  responsibility  of  school  administration,  school  staff, parents, students, and the wider community.

Bullying Definition

“Bullying” is defined  as the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that:

  1. causes physical  or emotional  harm  to the victim or damage to the victim’s property;
  2. places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself  or of damage to his property;
  3. creates a hostile environment at school for the victim;
  4. infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or
  5. materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation   of  a  school.  For  the  purposes  of  this  section, bullying shall include cyber- bullying.

While  the  focus  of  this  policy  is on  bullying between  students  it is recognized that adult may also be aggressors in this regard.

Bullying should not be confused with isolated conflicts between students or staff.   Research on bullying identifies it as behavior  that  occurs repeatedly, that is intended to harm the target, and that involves a power imbalance  between  the  target  and  the  person  or  persons  who   are bullying.

“Cyber-bullying” is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any  electronic  communication, which   shall  include,  but  shall  not  be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence  of any  nature  transmitted in  whole  or  in  part  by  a wire, radio,  electromagnetic,  photo  electronic  or photo  optical  system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail,  internet  communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Cyber-bullying shall also include: (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which  the creator  assumes the identity of  another  person;  or  (ii)  the knowing  impersonation of  another  person  as the  author   of  posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (a) to (e)  inclusive,  of the definition of bullying. Cyber- bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting  creates any of the conditions enumerated  in the above clauses (a) to (e) inclusive,  of the definition of bullying.

2. POLICY

2.1 Prohibition Of Unacceptable Behavior

Bullying as defined above, shall be prohibited:

(i) on  school  grounds,   property  immediately  adjacent  to  school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a school district or school, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by a school district or school and

(ii) at a location,  activity, function or  program that  is not  school- related, or through the use of technology  or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a school district or school, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes  on the rights  of the target  at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education  process or the orderly operation   of  a school.  Nothing contained  herein  shall  require schools to supervise any non-school related activities, functions, or programs.

2.2 Responsibilities

A. All District Employees

It  is  a violation of  this  policy   for  any  administrator, teacher.  other employee, volunteer, or any student to engage in or condone bullying in school  or  to  fail   to  report   or  otherwise   take  reasonable  corrective measures when  they  become aware  of  an incident  of  harassment  as defined in Section 1 above.

This policy  is not designed or intended  to limit the school’s authority to take disciplinary action or take remedial action when bullying occurs out of school. School administration must  intervene  if bullying that  starts outside of the school and creates a hostile environment at school for the target;  and/or infringes  on the rights  of  the target  at school; and/or materially  and  substantially  disrupts  the  education  process  or  the orderly operation of a school.

Reports of cyber bullying by electronic or other means, occurring  in or out  of school will be reviewed  and, when  a nexus to work  or school exists,  will result  in  discipline. Parents  of  students  alleged  to  have engaged in cyber bullying will be requested to attend a meeting at which the activity, words  or images subject to the complaint will be reviewed. A student  disciplined for cyber-bullying will not be re-admitted to the regular school program until his or her parent(s) attend such meeting.

In cases in which  school staff become aware of cyber bullying that does not  have a nexus in  school, staff must  report  what  they  know  to the school administration, who  shall make families  involved aware of the concerns.

Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been subjected to bullying has the right  to file a complaint and to receive prompt and appropriate handling of  the complaint. Further,  all  reasonable efforts shall be made to maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of all parties, but proper  enforcement of this policy  may require disclosure of any or all information received.

Where  circumstances  require  the  breach  of  normal  privacy considerations  those whose privacy rights may be breached shall be informed ahead of time.

In their communications with families school administrators shall be sensitive  to student  privacy issues in  circumstances  in  which  families may not be aware of the sexual preferences or gender identify issues that may be the cause of bullying behavior.

School and district employees shall confirm annually that they have read the policy.

If an instance of student-to-student bullying is reported to a staff member other  than  an  administrator,  the  staff  member  must  inform administration.

If a situation involving a charge of staff member to student  bullying is brought  to the attention  of any staff  member,  the staff  member  must notify school administration immediately.

In  a situation involving  a charge  of  staff  member  to  staff  member bullying the  staff  member  should  notify school administration immediately.

B. Administrators

Investigation Procedures

The Principal (or his/her designee) shall be responsible for assisting employees and students seeking guidance or support in addressing matters relating to any form of bullying.

The Principal (or his/her designee) shall determine  whether  or not the police should be immediately involved depending  upon the severity and nature of the allegation of bullying, and the Principals  shall inform parents/guardians of concerns regarding bullying as soon as is practicable, while  recognizing specific circumstances of an investigation.

The principal shall immediately inform the Superintendent of Schools in writing of all confirmed instances of bullying and the action taken.

C. Parents

Parents/guardians  are requested to:

  1. report to the Principal  (or  his/her  designee)  any  concerns regarding  bullying as soon as they arise;
  2. call the police, particularly in cases of suspect cyber-bulling where there is no evident nexus to the school;
  3. avoid anticipating the outcome of an investigation into an allegation prior to the conclusion of the investigation;
  4. refrain from taking matters into their own hands;
  5. confirm that they have read this policy  during the first  year that a child is enrolled.

D. Students

Students have a responsibility to:

(a)       Report  bullying  to  any  member  of  the  district  staff  they  feel comfortable talking with.

(b)      Not be a passive bystander

E. Volunteers

Volunteers shall be made aware of this policy, and be expected to report to administrator any behavior that might reasonably fall within the definition of bullying.

F. Once a charge of bullying has been made the following course of action
must be taken.The Principal shall investigate the charge through discussions with the individuals involved. In situations involving allegations against a staff member, he /she shoul d be informed of his/her rights to have a third party present at the time of the discussion. In situations involving students the Principal may engage such staff as s/he deems to be appropriate. Parents w ill be informed of the situation and invited to participate in resolution discussions. It is important that the situation be resolved as confidentially and as quickly as the circumstances permit.

The Principal shall inform the police if s/he believes that criminal charges may be pursued against an aggressor/s.

G. Parents shall be informed in writing as to the findings of an investigation into an allegation of bullying. Any consequences received by an aggressor shall be regarded as confidential to the school and his/her parents.

2.4 Rehabilitation of Victims

The Principal shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that there are clear procedures for restoring a sense of safety for a victim and assessing and providing for that victim’s needs for protection.

2.5 Retaliation

Retaliation in any form against any person who has made or filed a complaint relating to harassment or bullying is forbidden. If it occurs, it may be considered grounds for dismissal of staff personnel and / or removal from the educational setting for a student. A referral to law enforcement may be made.

2.6 Confidentiality

Reports of bullying should be kept completely confidential by all parties (including parents/guardians), consistent with necessary investigation procedures, with the goal of protecting the victim and stopping the behavior.

2.7 Educational Programs

The school district shall support schools in satisfying a requirement that each school build on current practice relative to the development of  resilience and respectful relationships among students, and to provide age appropriate instruction on bullying prevention in each grade that is incorporated into the curriculum of the school district or school. The curriculum shall be evidence based.

Annual Training shall be provided for all district employees and volunteers in preventing, identifying and responding to incidents of bullying.

2.8 Students With Special Needs

Whenever the evaluation of the Individualized Education Program team indicates that the child has a disability that affects social skills development or that the child is vulnerable to bullying, harassment or teasing because of the child’s disability, the Individualized Education Program shall address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to harassment.

3. Publication and Notice

3.1 Annual  written  notice   of   the   relevant  sections   of   the   bullying prevention and  intervention plan  shall  be provided to students and their parents/guardians, in age-appropriate terms. Annual written notice of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall  be provided to  all  school  staff. The  faculty and  staff  at each school   shall   be  trained  annually on  the  bullying  prevention and intervention plan applicable to the school.

3.3 Relevant  sections  of  the  bullying  prevention and  intervention plan relating to the duties  of the faculty and staff  shall  be included in the school employee handbook.

3.4 The bullying prevention and intervention plan  shall be posted on the Triton Regional School District website.

LEGAL REFERENCES:

An Act Relative To Bullying In Schools, 2010

Title VII, S 703, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended

Federal EEO Commission Regulation 74676

DESE Regulation 603 CMR 26.00          Mandatory reporting

M.G.L. 71, S37O           School bullying prohibited; bullying prevention plans

M.G.L. 265, S43,43A           Crime against a person

M.G.L. 268, S13B          Intimidation of witnesses and jurors

M.G.L. 269, S14A           Annoying telephone calls

AC / 102          Nondiscrimination

ACAB / 103          Harassment

JI / 1010          Student Rights and responsibilities

JICFA-E / 1018          Hazing

JK / 1029          Student Discipline