Bullying Prevention And Intervention Plan

I.           INTRODUCTION

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.

Core Values

Consistent with these Core Values the district expects that:

  1. all members of the school community will treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences;
  2. 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;
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. all reports and complaints of bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation will be the subject of a rigorous investigation; and
  6. Principals  will take operational  responsibility  for the implementation of the plan on a day-to-day basis.

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:

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.

Prohibited Behaviors

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.

II.         LEADERSHIP

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:

School Committee

  1. 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

  1. To establish baseline data on bullying incidents.
  2. To   ensure   that   rigorous   reporting   and   investigation    arrangements   are established and implemented.
  3. To  receive,  analyze  and  file  reports  on  all  allegations   of  bullying  and  the results of investigations.
  4. To ensure  that  district  staff,  volunteers  and families  are made  aware  of the policy and the district’s expectations on an annual basis.
  5. To ensure that all students  are provided  with an age appropriate  curriculum designed to build respectful relationships  between students.
  6. To ensure that appropriate  professional  development  is provided to all staff.

Principals

  1. 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.
  2. To investigate rigorously and promptly any and all allegations of bullying
  3. To involve parents/guardians and the police in a timely manner.
  4. To provide such reports as may be required by the Superintendent of schools in a timely manner.

All Personnel

  1. To  report   to  school   administration  incidents   of  bullying   or  evidence   of bullying.

Students

  1. To  report   to  school   administration  incidents   of  bullying   or  evidence   of bullying.
  2. 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

1.         General

Schools will:

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 

2.         Specific

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

professional development;

i)   expect  School  Councils  to  receive  regular  reports  on  bullying  incidents  and prevention as part of their responsibility for school climate

Schools will:

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.

2.         Investigation

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.