Policies - Section 5000 » 5009 - Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention – Bullying

5009 - Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention – Bullying

 
 
5009 Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention – Bullying 5009
 

I. Definitions of Bullying:

1. Bullying. Bullying is defined as a single significant incident or a pattern of incidents involving a written, verbal, or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another pupil which:

(a) Physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil’s property;
(b) Causes emotional distress to a pupil;
(c) Interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities;
(d) Creates a hostile educational environment; or
(e) Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.
 
Bullying shall also include actions motivated by an imbalance of power based on a pupil’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs, or motivated by the pupil’s association with another person and based on the other person’s characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.

2. Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is defined as any conduct defined as “bullying” in this policy that is undertaken through the use of electronic devices. For purposes of this policy, any references to the term bullying shall include cyberbullying. Electronic devices include, but are not limited to telephones; cellular phones; computers; and pagers that are able to transmit instant messages, text messages, and websites.

II. Statement Prohibiting Bullying or Cyberbullying of a Pupil:

The Board is committed to providing all pupils a safe and secure school environment. This policy is intended to comply with RSA 193-F. Conduct constituting bullying and/or cyberbullying will not be tolerated and is prohibited.

The District reserves the right to address bullying and, if necessary, impose discipline for bullying that:

1. Occurs on, or is delivered to, school property, school busses, or a school-sponsored activity or event on or off school property; or

2. Occurs off of school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity or event, if the conduct interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event.

III. Statement of False Accusations and/or Prohibiting Retaliation:

False Accusations:

A student found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences and/or interventions designed to address the behavior.

A school employee found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused a student of bullying shall be subject to discipline or other consequences to be determined in accordance with applicable law, District policies, procedures and collective bargaining agreements.

Reprisal or Retaliation:

The District shall discipline and take appropriate action against any student, volunteer, or employee who retaliates against any person who makes a good faith report of alleged bullying or against any person who participates in a proceeding relating to such bullying. The District shall take appropriate action for any individual who engages in reprisal and/or retaliation in accordance with applicable law, Board policy, and applicable collective bargaining agreements. Students who engage in this act may be subject to discipline up to and including expulsion. Employees who engage in this act may be subject to discipline up to and including termination of employment. Volunteers may be subject to exclusion from school grounds.

Process to Protect Pupils from Retaliation:

If the alleged victim or any witness expresses to the Principal/designee or other staff member that he/she believes he/she may be retaliated against, the Principal/designee shall develop a process or plan to protect that student from possible retaliation. Such plans may include warnings, rearranging of class schedules, and eliminating privileges, and other similar strategies.

IV. Protection of all Pupils:

This policy shall apply to all pupils and school-aged persons on school district grounds and participating in school district functions, regardless of whether or not such pupil or school-aged person is a student within the District.

V. Disciplinary/Intervention Consequences for Violations of This Policy:

The District reserves the right to impose disciplinary measures or interventions against any student who commits an act of bullying, falsely accuses another student of bullying, or who retaliates against any student or witness who provides information about an act of bullying.

VI. Distribution and Notice of This Policy:

Staff and Regular Volunteers:

All staff and contracted school bus drivers shall be provided with a copy of this policy annually through staff handbooks. The Superintendent shall ensure that all school employees and regular volunteers receive annual training on bullying and related District policies.

Students and Parents:

All students and parents shall be provided with a copy of this policy annually through student/parent handbooks.

Students shall participate in education programs which describe expectations for student behavior and emphasize an understanding of harassment, intimidation, and bullying of students, the District’s prohibition of such conduct, and the reasons why the conduct is unacceptable. Students shall also be informed of the consequences of bullying conduct toward their peers.

The District shall also provide educational programs for parents and guardians for the purpose of preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.

VII. Procedure for Reporting Bullying:

The Principal/designee shall be responsible for receiving complaints of alleged violations of this policy.

Student, Parent, Volunteer, and Visitor Reporting:

1. Any student who believes he or she has been the victim of bullying should report the alleged acts immediately to the Principal/designee. If the student is more comfortable reporting the alleged act to a person other than the Principal/designee, the student may tell any school district employee or volunteer about the alleged bullying.

2. Although students, parents, volunteers and visitors may report anonymously, formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report. Independent verification of the anonymous report shall be necessary in order for any disciplinary action to be applied.

3. Upon receipt of a report of bullying, the Principal shall commence an investigation consistent with the provisions of Section XI of this policy.

Staff Reporting:

1. An important duty of the staff is to report acts or behavior that they witness that appears to constitute bullying. Any school employee or volunteer who witnesses, receives a report of, or has knowledge or belief that bullying may have occurred shall inform the Principal/designee as soon as possible, but no later than the end of that school day.

2. All District employees and volunteers shall encourage students to tell them about acts that may constitute bullying. For young students, staff members may provide direct assistance to the student.

3. Upon receipt of a report of bullying, the Principal/designee shall commence an investigation consistent with the provisions of Section XI of this policy.

VIII. Procedure for Internal Reporting Requirements:

In order to satisfy the reporting requirements of RSA 193-F:6, the Principal or designee shall be responsible for completing all New Hampshire Department of Education forms and reporting documents of substantiated incidents of bullying. Upon completion of such forms, the Principal or designee shall retain a copy for himself and shall forward one copy to the Superintendent. The Superintendent shall maintain said forms in a safe and secure location. The District shall annually report substantiated incidents of bullying and cyberbullying to the NH Department of Education.

IX. Notifying Parents/Guardians of Alleged Bullying:

The Principal/designee shall report to the parents/guardians of a student who has been reported as a victim of bullying and to the parents of a student who has been reported as a perpetrator of bullying within 48 hours of receiving the report. Such notification may be made by telephone, writing or personal conference. The date, time, method, and location (if applicable) of such notification and communication shall be noted in the report. All notifications shall be consistent with the student privacy rights under the applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

X. Waiver of Notification Requirement:

The Superintendent may, within a 48 hour time period, grant the Principal/designee a waiver from the requirement that the parents/guardians of the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator be notified of the filing of a report. A waiver may only be granted if the Superintendent deems such a waiver to be in the best interest of the victim or perpetrator. Any waiver granted shall be in writing.

XI. Investigation Procedures:

1. Upon receipt of a report of bullying, the Principal/designee shall, within 5 school days, initiate an investigation into the alleged act. If the Principal/designee is directly and personally involved with a complaint or is closely related to a party to the complaint, then the Superintendent shall direct another District employee to conduct the investigation.

2. The investigation may include documented interviews with the alleged victim, alleged perpetrator and any witnesses. All interviews shall be conducted privately, separately and shall be confidential. Each individual will be interviewed separately and at no time will the alleged victim and perpetrator be interviewed together during the investigation.

3. If the alleged bullying was in whole or in part cyberbullying, the Principal/designee may ask students and/or parents to provide the District with printed copies of e-mails, text messages, website pages, or other similar electronic communications. The  District will conform to its policy number 5011, Searches of Students, Student’s Property and School Owned Property.

4. A maximum of 10 school days shall be the limit for the initial filing of incidents and completion of the investigative procedural steps.

5. Factors the Principal/designee or other investigator may consider during the course of the investigation include, but are not limited to:
    • Description of incident, including the nature of the behavior;
    • How often the conduct occurred;
    • Whether there were past incidents or past continuing patterns of behavior;
    • The characteristics of parties involved, (name, grade, age, etc.);
    • The identity and number of individuals who participated in bullying behavior;
    • Where the alleged incident(s) occurred;
    • Whether the conduct adversely affected the student’s education or educational environment;
    • Whether the alleged victim felt or perceived an imbalance of power as a result of the reported incident; and
    • The date, time and method in which parents or legal guardians of all parties involved were contacted.
 
6. The Principal/designee shall complete the investigation within 10 school days of receiving the initial report. If the Principal/designee needs more than 10 school days to complete the investigation, the Superintendent may grant an extension of up to 7 school days. In the event such extension is granted, the Principal/designee shall notify in writing all parties involved of the granting of the extension.
 
7. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy shall require a determination based on all facts and surrounding circumstances and shall include recommended remedial steps necessary to stop the bullying and a written final report to the Principal/designee.
 
XII. Response to Remediate Substantiated Instances of Bullying:

Students and/or staff members facing discipline shall be afforded all due process required by law. Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for a student or staff member who commits one or more acts of bullying or retaliation may range from interventions up to and including expulsion of students and dismissal from employment for staff members.

Consequences for a student who commits an act of bullying or retaliation shall be varied and graded according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student, and the student’s history of problem behaviors and performance. Remedial measures shall be designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the problem, protect and provide support for the victim, and take corrective action for documented systematic problems related to bullying.

XIII. Reporting of Substantiated Incidents to the Superintendent:

The Principal/designee shall forward all substantiated reports of bullying to the Superintendent upon completion of the Principal’s/designee’s investigation.

XIV. Communication with Parents upon Completion of Investigation:

1. Within two school days of completing an investigation, the Principal/designee shall notify the students involved in person of the results of the investigation.

2. Within two school days, the Principal/designee shall notify by telephone the parents/guardians of the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator of the results of the investigation. Such notification shall be followed in writing within five school days.

3. In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and other law concerning student privacy, the District will not disclose educational records of students including the discipline and remedial action assigned to those students and the parents of other students involved in a bullying incident.

XVI. Use of Video and/or Audio Recordings in Student Disciplinary Matters:

In accordance with RSA 570-A, Wiretapping and Eavesdropping, Section 570-A:2, and with Milford School Board Policy 2315, Student Transportation Management, Section 3, the District reserves the right to use such audio and/or video recordings on District property, including school buses, to ensure the safety and welfare of all, and to be used when applicable, as part of student discipline proceedings.

XVII. School Officials:

The Superintendent of Schools is responsible for ensuring that this policy is implemented.
 

References:
RSA 193-F
RSA 570-A
Public Hearing relative to RSA 570-A:2,
Video and Audio Recording on School Buses was held on November 1, 2010
 
Adopted: 06/2001
Revised: 11/2008, 11/2010