Report Suspected Bullying
BOE Policy 5550 Safe School Climate Plan for Anti-Bullying
The West Hartford Board of Education is dedicated to promoting and maintaining a positive learning environment where all students are welcomed, supported, and feel socially, emotionally, intellectually and physically safe in school.
II. BULLYING PROHIBITED
A. Bullying is prohibited on 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 local or regional board of education, or through the use of an electronic device or an electronic mobile device owned, leased, or used by the local or regional board of education.
B. Bullying is also prohibited outside of the school setting if such bullying results in any of the following: (i) creates a hostile environment at school for the student against whom such bullying was directed, (ii) infringes on the rights of the student against whom such bullying was directed at school, or (iii) substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
C. Any form of discrimination and retaliation against an individual who reports or assists in the investigation of an act of bullying is strictly prohibited.
A. “Bullying” means (1) the repeated use by one or more students of a written, oral, or electronic communication, such as cyberbullying, directed at or referring to another student attending school in the same school district, or (2) a physical act or gesture by one or more students repeatedly directed at another student attending school in the same school district, that:
(a) Causes physical or emotional harm to such student or damage to such student’s property,
(b) Places such student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property,
(c) Creates a hostile environment at school for such student,
(d) Infringes on the rights of such student at school, or
(e) Substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying shall include, but not be limited to, a written, oral, or electronic communication or physical gesture based on any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, such as
race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, socioeconomic status, academic status, physical appearance, or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with an individual or group who has or is perceived to have one or more of such characteristics.
B. “Cyberbullying” means any act of bullying through the use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile devices or any electronic communications.
C. “Mobile electronic device” means any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more individuals, including, but not limited to, a text messaging device, a paging device, a personal digital assistant, a laptop computer, equipment that is capable of playing a video game or a digital video disk, or equipment on which digital images are taken or transmitted.
D. “Electronic communication” means 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.
E. “Hostile environment” means a situation in which bullying among students is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the school climate.
F. “Out of the school setting” means at a location, activity, or program that is not school related, or through the use of an electronic device or a mobile electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a local or regional board of education.
G. “Safe School Climate Coordinator” means the individual appointed by the Superintendent of Schools from existing staff who is responsible for:
1. Implementing the district’s Safe School Climate Plan;
2. Collaborating with the safe school climate specialists, the Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying in the schools of the district.
3. Providing data and information, in collaboration with the Superintendent of Schools of the district, to the State Department of Education regarding bullying, in accordance with state law; and
4. Meeting with the safe school climate specialists at least twice during the school year to discuss issues relating to bullying in the school district and to make recommendations concerning amendments to the district’s Safe School Climate Plan.
H. “Safe School Climate Specialist” means the principal of each school, or the principal’s designee, who is responsible for:
1. Investigating or supervising the investigation of reported acts of bullying in the
school in accordance with the district’s Safe School Climate Plan;
2. Collecting and maintaining records of reports and investigations of bullying in the school; and
3. Acting as the primary school official responsible for preventing, identifying, and responding to reports of bullying in the school.
I. “School employee” means
1. A teacher, substitute teacher, school administrator, school superintendent, guidance counselor, psychologist, social worker, nurse, physician, school paraprofessional or coach employed by a local or regional board of education or working in a public elementary, middle, or high school; or
2. Any other individual who, in performance of his or her duties, has regular contact with students and who provides services to or on behalf of students enrolled in a public elementary, middle, or high school, pursuant to a contract with the local or regional board of education.
J. “School climate” means the quality and character of school life with a particular focus on the quality of the relationships within the school community between and among students and adults.
IV. SAFE SCHOOL CLIMATE PLAN
The district’s Safe School Climate Plan consists of this policy as well as the administrative regulations developed by the Superintendent of Schools to implement this policy. This policy clarifies the legal mandates regarding the district’s response to bullying in its schools. The administrative regulations shall address the broader topic of school climate and may incorporate the National School Climate Standards or other applicable evidence-based standards. Revisions to any part of the Safe School Climate Plan shall be approved by the Board of Education.
A. Reporting Procedures
- Any student who believes he or she has been the victim of bullying may report the matter to any school employee. Students may anonymously report acts of bullying to school employees.
- Parents or guardians of students may also file written reports of suspected bullying.
- School employees who witness acts of bullying or receive reports of bullying are required to orally notify the safe school climate specialist (or another school administrator if the safe school climate specialist is unavailable), not later than one school day after such school employee witnesses or receives a report of bullying, and to file a written report not later than two school days after making such oral report.
- The safe school climate specialist shall investigate or supervise the investigation of all reports of bullying and ensure that such investigation is completed promptly after receipt of any written reports and that the parents or guardians of the student alleged to have committed an act or acts of bullying and the parents or guardians of the student against whom such alleged act or acts were directed receive prompt notice that such investigation has commenced.
- The safe school climate specialist shall review any anonymous reports. No disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
- The investigator shall assess whether there is a necessity to take immediate measures to prevent further allegations of bullying or retaliation of any kind while the investigation is pending.
- The investigator shall remind involved parties that any form of discrimination and retaliation against an individual who reports or assists in the investigation of an act of bullying is strictly prohibited.
- After a prompt investigation, the investigator should ascertain whether the alleged conduct occurred and whether such conduct constitutes bullying as defined by this policy.
C. Response to Verified Acts of Bullying
- If it is determined that bullying has occurred, the school will take prompt corrective action that is reasonably calculated to stop the bullying and prevent any recurrence of such behavior. As part of such remedial action, the offender may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action which may include, but is not limited to, one or a combination of the following: counseling, awareness training, warning, reassignment, transfer, suspension, or expulsion.
- Each school shall notify the parents or guardians of students who commit any verified acts of bullying and the parents or guardians of students against whom such acts were directed not later than forty-eight hours after the completion of the investigation. This notification shall include a description of the response of school employees to such acts and any consequences that may result from the commission of further acts of bullying.
- Each school is required to invite the parents or guardians of a student [who commits any verified act of bullying and the parents or guardians of the student] against whom such act was directed to a meeting to communicate to such parents or guardians the measures being taken by the school to ensure the safety of the student against whom such act was directed and policies and procedures in place to prevent further acts of bullying. This invitation shall include a description of the response of school employees to such acts and any consequences that may result from the commission of further acts of bullying.
- Each school is required to invite the parents or guardians of a student who commits any verified act of bullying to a meeting, separate and distinct from the meeting in section 3 above, to discuss specific interventions undertaken by the school to prevent further acts of bullying.
- A student safety support plan shall be developed for any student against whom an act of bullying was directed. The plan shall address safety measures that the school will take to protect such students against further acts of bullying.
- Case-by-case interventions shall be developed to address repeated incidents of bullying against a single individual or recurrently perpetrated bullying incidents by the same individual that may include both counseling and discipline.
- The principal of a school, or designee, shall notify the appropriate law enforcement agency when such principal, or designee, believes that any acts of bullying constitute criminal conduct.
D. Prevention and Intervention Strategy
Students shall be provided with a variety of prevention and intervention strategies which may include, but are not limited to:
- Implementation of positive behavioral interventions and supports process or another evidence-based model approach for safe school climate or for the prevention of bullying identified by the State Department of Education;
- School rules prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation and establishing appropriate consequences for those who engage in such acts;
- Adequate adult supervision of outdoor areas, hallways, the lunchroom and other specific areas where bullying is likely to occur;
- Inclusion of grade-appropriate bullying education and prevention curricula in kindergarten through high school;
- Individual interventions with the bully, parents, and school employees, and interventions with the bullied child, parents, and school employees;
- School-wide training related to safe school climate;
- Student peer training, education and support;
- Promotion of parent involvement in bullying prevention through individual or team participation in meetings, trainings and individual interventions;
- Culturally competent school-based curriculum focusing on social-emotional learning, self-awareness and self-regulation.
For purposes of this section, “interventions with the bullied child” includes referrals to a school counselor, psychologist or other appropriate social or mental health service, and periodic follow-up by the safe school climate specialist with the bullied child.
E. Documentation and Record Keeping
1. Safe school specialists shall establish a procedure for each school to:
a. Document and maintain records relating to reports and investigations of bullying in such school.
b. Maintain a list of the number of verified acts of bullying in such school and make such list available for public inspection. The public list must not contain any personally identifiable information about any student or information that might reasonably lead to the identification of any student.
2. The district’s safe school climate coordinator shall annually report the number of verified acts of bullying in the district’s schools to the Department of Education in such manner as prescribed by the Commissioner of Education.
- All school employees must annually complete training on the prevention, identification, and response to bullying and the prevention of and response to youth suicide. The training will be provided to teachers, administrators, and pupil personnel who hold the initial educator, provisional educator, or professional educator certificate via in-service training. All other school employees shall receive such training as provided by the State Department of Education.
- As part of the prevention and intervention strategies, schools may also implement school-wide training related to safe school climate and student peer training, education, and support.
G. Safe School Climate Committee
For the school year commencing July 1, 2012, and each school year thereafter, the principal of each school shall establish a committee (or designate at least one existing committee in the school) to be responsible for developing and fostering a safe school
climate and addressing issues relating to bullying in the school. Such committee shall include at least one parent or guardian of a student enrolled in the school appointed by the school principal. Parents or guardians who serve on such committee shall not participate in the activities described in subparagraphs (1) and (2) below or any other activity that may compromise the confidentiality of a student. The safe school climate committee of each school shall:
1. Receive copies of completed reports following investigations of bullying;
2. Identify and address patterns of bullying among students in the school;
3. Review and make recommendations to amend school policies relating to bullying;
4. Review and make recommendations to the district safe school climate coordinator regarding the district’s safe school climate plan based on issues and experiences specific to the school;
5. Educate students, school employees, and parents and guardians of students on issues relating to bullying;
6. Collaborate with the district safe school climate coordinator in the collection of data regarding bullying, in accordance with the law;
7. Perform any other duties as determined by the school principal that are related to the prevention, identification, and response to school bullying for the school.
H. Periodic Assessment of School Climate
- On and after July 1, 2012, and biennially thereafter, each school in the district shall complete an assessment using the school climate assessment instruments, including surveys, approved and disseminated by the State Department of Education so that the state can monitor bullying prevention efforts over time and compare each district’s progress to state trends.
- Assessment tools may also be used by Safe School Climate Committees to review and make recommendations for revisions to the district’s Safe School Climate Plan.
I. Notice Requirements
- At the beginning of each school year, each school will provide all school employees with a written or electronic copy of the school district’s Safe School Climate Plan.
- Students and the parents or guardians of students shall be notified at the beginning of each school year of the process by which students may make reports of bullying.
- Students shall be provided with notice of the definitions of bullying, cyberbullying, and the potential consequences of engaging in such acts by the inclusion of language in student codes of conduct concerning bullying.
- The district’s Safe School Climate Plan shall be made available on the Board’s and each individual school’s Internet web-site and ensure that such plan is included in the school district’s publication of rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for schools, and in all student handbooks.
Legal Reference: Connecticut General Statutes:
10-15c Discrimination in public schools prohibited
46a-58 Deprivation of rights
10-145a Certificates of qualification
10-145o Teacher education and mentoring program
10-220a In-service training
10-222d Policy on bullying behavior
10-222g Prevention and intervention strategy re: bullying
` 10-222h Analysis of bullying policies
P.A. 11-232 “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of Bullying Laws”
United States Code:
20 U.S.C. 1400 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
20 U.S.C. 1681 Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
29 U.S.C. 794 Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
42 U.S.C. 2000d Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
42 U.S.C. 12101 Americans with Disabilities Act
Adopted: February 4, 2003
Revised: November 21, 2006
Revised: January 20, 2009
Revised: December 20, 2011
Reviewed: May 19, 2015