Bullying Prevention And 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.
The Anti-Bulling Policy and Plan are both underpinned by the district’s Core Values:
respect, integrity, and excellence for all.
Consistent with these Core Values the district expects that:
- all members of the school community will treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences;
- all students will be provided with a safe learning environment that is free from bullying and cyberbullying. This commitment is an integral part of our comprehensive efforts to promote learning, and to prevent and eliminate all forms of bullying and other harmful and disruptive behavior that can impede the learning process;
- schools will take specific steps to create a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable populations in the school community (such as students with disabilities, students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and homeless students), and provide all students with the skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing;
- any unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation, in our school buildings, on school grounds, or in school-related activities, will not be tolerated;
- all reports and complaints of bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation will be the subject of a rigorous investigation; and
- Principals will take operational responsibility for the implementation of the plan on a day-to-day basis.
“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:
a) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property;
b) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property;
c) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim;
d) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or
e) 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.
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 victim, and that involves a power imbalance between the victim 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.
Acts of bullying, which include cyberbullying, are prohibited:
a) on school grounds and 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
b) at a location, activity, function, or program that is not school-related through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by a school district or school, if the acts create a hostile environment at school for the target or witnesses, infringe on their rights at school, or materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is prohibited.
1. Leadership: Plan Development
The School Committee has approved a draft plan as a basis for consultation with school personnel, School Councils, Parent Teacher Associations, and local law enforcement agencies.
The draft plan has been developed with the assistant of a committee established by the district’s Leadership Team.
Membership of the plan development committee is as follows:
Christine Kneeland, Chair (Principal, Pine Grove School)
Scott Brennan (Assistant Principal, Triton Regional High School)
Alan MacRae (Assistant Principal, Triton Regional Middle School)
Heather Leonard (Assistant Principal, Newbury Elementary School)
Sue Densmore (President, Triton Regional Teachers Association)
Katherine Harris (Administrator for Special Education)
Sue Golden (Educational Psychologist, Triton Regional School District)
Nancy Tsakirgis (Social Worker, Triton Regional Middle and High Schools)
Ellen Lincoln (Social Worker, Salisbury Elementary School)
Kathleen DeStadler (Counselor, Newbury Elementary School)
2. Leadership: Plan Maintenance And Evaluation
Consideration will be given to the establishment of a standing committee of wider representation to advise on the maintenance and effectiveness of the plan.
3. Leadership: Implementation Roles
The following implementation roles are proposed:
- To approve the final plan, and receive an annual report on incidents of bullying and a review of the effectiveness of the plan.
Superintendent of Schools
- To establish baseline data on bullying incidents.
- To ensure that rigorous reporting and investigation arrangements are established and implemented.
- To receive, analyze and file reports on all allegations of bullying and the results of investigations.
- To ensure that district staff, volunteers and families are made aware of the policy and the district’s expectations on an annual basis.
- To ensure that all students are provided with an age appropriate curriculum designed to build respectful relationships between students.
- To ensure that appropriate professional development is provided to all staff.
- To work with staff to establish a school culture that is respectful of diversity in all its forms, and in which students and staff feel comfortable in reporting bullying.
- To investigate rigorously and promptly any and all allegations of bullying
- To involve parents/guardians and the police in a timely manner.
- To provide such reports as may be required by the Superintendent of schools in a timely manner.
- To report to school administration incidents of bullying or evidence of bullying.
- To report to school administration incidents of bullying or evidence of bullying.
- To respond to bullying rather than being a passive bystander.
III. CURRICULUM, TRAINING AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Professional development will be provided on an annual basis.
Professional development needs analysis will be undertaken through the existing processes and channels.
The content of school-wide and district-wide professional development will be informed by research, the advice of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and local needs analysis, and will include information on:
a) developmentally appropriate strategies to prevent bullying;
b) developmentally appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents;
c) information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take
place between and among an aggressor, target, and witnesses to the bullying;
d) research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment;
e) information on the incidence and nature of cyberbullying; and f) Internet safety issues as they relate to cyberbullying.
The following areas will be reviewed by the district in order to meet differentiated professional development needs:
a) promoting and modeling the use of respectful language;
b) fostering an understanding of and respect for diversity and difference;
c) building relationships and communicating with families;
d) constructively managing classroom behaviors;
e) using positive behavioral intervention strategies;
f) applying constructive disciplinary practices;
g) teaching students skills including positive communication, anger management, and empathy for others;
h) engaging students in school or classroom planning and decision-making; and i) maintaining a safe and caring classroom for all students.
The district will provide all staff with an annual written notice of the Plan by publishing information about it, including sections related to staff duties, in the school or district employee handbook and the code of conduct. Volunteers will also be informed about the plan.
IV. RESOURCES AND SERVICES
1. Resources Available To Prevent And Respond To Bullying
The district will audit the resources available to prevent and respond to bullying. The audit will be undertaken during the FY12 operating budget development cycle.
Resources presently identified include:
- All district personnel and volunteers
- Superintendent of Schools
- Assistant Superintendent of Schools
- Chief Academic Officer
- Principals (5)
- Educational Psychologists (1.6) School Nurses (5)
- High School guidance counselors (4) Middle School counselor
- Social Workers (2)
- Elementary School counselors (3) School Resource Officers (2)
- Responsive Classroom Program
- Community Gatherings
- Peer Mediation Program School Safety Committees District Attorney’s Office
- Extended School Day programming – including athletics and other after school activities
- Trainers external to the district
2. Counseling And Other Service, Including Referral To Outside Services
Under the leadership of the Principal, school-based Student Study Teams shall be responsible for developing safety plans for students who have been targets of bullying or retaliation, providing social skills programs to prevent bullying, and offering education and/or intervention services for students exhibiting bullying behaviors.
Under the leadership of the Principal, school-based Student Study Teams shall be responsible for developing intervention plans to modify the behavior of the aggressors.
The district will develop a process for identifying useful resources beyond the school that may be helpful to students, parents and guardians.
3. Students With Special Needs
As required by M.G.L. c. 71B, § 3, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, when an IEP Team determines the student has a disability that affects social skills development or the student may participate in or is vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing because of his/her disability, the Team will consider what should be included in the IEP to develop the student’s skills and proficiencies to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
V. ACADEMIC AND NON-ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES
a) set clear social and emotional development expectations for students and establish school and classroom routines;
b) create safe school and classroom environments for all students, including for
students with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students, and homeless students;
c) use appropriate and positive responses and reinforcement, even when students require discipline;
d) use positive behavioral supports;
e) encourage and expect all adults to develop positive relationships with students;
f) model, teach, and reward healthy, and respectful behaviors;
g) use positive approaches to behavioral health, including collaborative problem- solving, conflict resolution training, teamwork, and positive behavioral supports
that aid in social and emotional development;
h) ensure that the school Internet is used safely, and train students in safe Internet use;
i) insofar as resources allow, encourage students’ interest and participation in non- academic and extracurricular activities, particularly in their areas of strength;
j) review this plan on a regular basis
The District will:
a) undertake surveys of students and staff to establish baseline data on attitudes towards bullying;
b) investigate the use of an anonymous messaging system or other electronic communication system to facilitate reporting of bullying incidents;
c) recruit personnel who will have a positive impact on school climate and culture;
d) maintain its commitment to the Responsive Classroom program in the elementary schools;
e) investigate and adopt supplementary successful practices and activities;
f) consider advice on appropriate curricula to be published by the Department of
Elementary and Secondary Education;
g) adopt developmentally appropriate curricula, materials, texts, visuals and/or teaching methodologies by July 2011, with the aim of integrating those curricula within existing programs as far as is practicable;
h) investigate published materials that may be suitable for staff training and
i) expect School Councils to receive regular reports on bullying incidents and prevention as part of their responsibility for school climate
a) establish a school culture that is respectful of diversity in all its forms, and in which students and staff feel empowered to take action by knowing what to do when they witness other students engaged in acts of bullying or retaliation;
b) emphasize cybersafety, including safe and appropriate use of electronic communication technologies;
c) enhancing students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships and respectful communications;
d) review the plan with students on an annual basis through the student handbook
e) work with their School Councils and PTAs to provide opportunities for parents and guardians to become familiar with bullying issues and prevention/response strategies; and
f) work with their Resource Officers and other police department representatives in preventing and responding to bullying
VI. PROCEDURES FOR REPORTING AND RESPONDING TO BULLYING
1. Reporting and Responding
a) It is a violation of district policy for any administrator, teacher or other employee, 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 bullying as defined in Section I above.
b) Students, staff, parents/guardians must report any incident of bullying to a school administrator or a member of the school or district staff. If bullying is reported to a member of the school or district staff that person must report the incident to a school administrator.
c) 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.
d) Bullying may be reported anonymously.
e) Reports of bullying shall be made in writing. Younger students may need the assistance of a member of staff in making the report.
f) The written report shall be made on the form entitled “District Bullying Incident Report Form” – attached at Annex I. The report forms are available from school offices and the district office.
g) The written report shall be returned to the Principal or other school administrator as soon as is practicable after the alleged bullying incident occurs.
h) In a situation involving a charge of staff member to staff member bullying, the staff member should notify school administration immediately.
i) 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.
a) Before fully investigating the allegations of bullying or retaliation, the principal or designee will take steps to assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Responses to promote safety may include, but not be limited to, creating a personal safety plan; pre-determining seating arrangements for the target and/or the aggressor in the classroom, at lunch, or on the bus; identifying a staff member who will act as a “safe person” for the target; and altering the aggressor’s schedule and access to the target. The principal or designee will take additional steps to promote safety during the course of and after the investigation, as necessary.
b) The Principal shall investigate the charge through discussions with the individuals involved. In situations involving allegations against a staff member, he/she should 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 will be informed of the situation at the earliest opportunity and invited to
participate in resolution discussions. It is important that the situation be resolved as confidentially and as quickly as the circumstances permit.
c) The Principal shall notify the parents/guardians of a student who has been reported as bullying at the earliest practicable opportunity.
d) In the case of alleged bullying related to the target’s sexual or gender orientation the school administration shall be sensitive to the fact that a student’s family may not be aware of the student’s sexual orientation or preferences.
e) 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.
f) The Principal shall inform the police if s/he believes that criminal charges may be pursued against an aggressor.
g) Parents of the ta r ge t a nd the a lle ged a ggr e ssor s ha ll be inf or m e d in w r iting a s to the find ing s of a n inve s tiga tion into an allegation of bullying, and, if the bullying is proven, the actions proposed to prevent recurrence of the bullying behavior. Any consequences received by an aggressor shall be regarded as confidential to the school and his/her parents/guardians.
h) A school’s administration has 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 creates a hostile environment at school for the target; and/or infringes on the rights of the victim at school; and/or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
i) Reports of cyber bullying by electronic or other means, occurring in or out of school will be reviewed and, when a nexus or connection with school exists, will be investigated and may 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.
j) In cases in which school staff become aware of cyber bullying that does not have a nexus in or connection with school, staff must report what they know to the school administration, who shall make families involved aware of the concerns.
k) Where circumstances require the breach of normal privacy considerations those whose privacy rights may be breached shall be informed ahead of time.
3. False Reporting
In circumstances in which a student knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying, the Principal shall take such action as may be necessary to prevent recurrence. The consequences for false reporting may include, but not be limited to the making of apologies, other routine consequences for misconduct, and counseling.
4. Support for and Rehabilitation of Targets
The Principal shall take all available 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.
5. Protection of Witness To Or Those Reporting Bullying Or Providing
Information About An Act Of Bullying
The Principal shall take all available steps to ensure that there are clear procedures for securing the physical and emotional safety those who (a) witness bullying or (b) report bullying or (c) provide relevant information during an investigation, or (d) provide reliable information about an act of bullying.
6. Support For Families
In the case of a proven act of bullying the Principal shall ensure that an appropriate team of school and, as necessary, district staff develop a plan for supporting the families of the victim and the aggressor, including relevant counseling and referral to other services.
7. Retaliation – Reporting and Investigation
Retaliation in any form against any person who has made or filed a complaint relating to bullying by the aggressor or a third party 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.
Reports of retaliation may be made by students, staff, parents/guardians or other parties. Such reports shall be investigated through the same process and procedures as are required in response to reports of bullying.
Reports of retaliation may be made anonymously.
8. Confidentiality Of Proceedings
Reports of bullying should be kept confidential by all parties (including parents/guardians), consistent with necessary investigation procedures, with the goal of protecting the target and stopping the behavior.
VII. CONSEQUENCES FOR ACTS OF BULLYING OR RETALIATION
Consequences for proven acts of bullying and/or retaliation determined by school administration shall be proportionate to the aggressor’s behavior and history of similar misconduct. They may include, but shall not be limited to, expulsion from the school.
In cases that are referred to the police, the latter shall take action in consultation with the school administration, but shall be responsible for the final decision as to how to proceed. Consequences under the laws, a number of which are relevant to acts of bullying may include, but not be limited to the bringing of formal charges and arraignment in court.
In cases where a student is proven to have engaged in bullying behavior the Principal shall ensure that an appropriate team of school and, as necessary, district staff shall work with the student and his or her parents/guardians to develop a plan to modify the student’s behavior.
VIII. COLLABORATING WITH FAMILIES
On an annual basis the attention of parents and guardians will be drawn to:
- the district’s Bullying Prevention Policy, and the Bullying Prevention Plan
- the curriculum approaches adopted to prevent the occurrence of bullying
- guidance on how families may support school’s efforts to prevent bullying
- guidance on on-line safety and cyberbullying
School administrations will work with Parent Teacher Associations and School Councils to ensure that there are periodic opportunities for families to learn about bullying, its dynamics, and how partnership between schools, families and external organizations may work to prevent bullying.
VIII PUBLICATION AND NOTICE
a) 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.
b) 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.
c) 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.
d) The bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be posted on the
Triton Regional School District website.
e) School and district employees shall confirm annually that they have read the policy.