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0115R - STUDENT HARASSMENT AND BULLYING PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION REGULATION
0000 - PHILOSOPHY
0115R STUDENT HARASSMENT AND BULLYING PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION REGULATION
Last Updated Date: 06/14/2012
Revisions History: 06/14/2012
The Board condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing, intimidation and bullying, whether in person, in print or electronically, on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events, including those that take place at locations outside the District.
Prevention is the cornerstone of the District’s effort to address bullying and harassment. The components of such an effort may involve the following:
1. Following the principles and practices of “Educating the Whole Child Engaging the Whole School: Guidelines and Resources for Social and Emotional Development and Learning (SEDL) in New York State – Adopted by the Board of Regents July 18, 2011.” District curriculum will emphasize developing empathy, tolerance and respect for others.
2. Learning about and identifying the early warning signs and precursor behaviors that may lead to bullying.
3. Gathering information about bullying at school directly from students (through surveys and other mechanisms); analyzing and using the data gathered to assist in decision-making about programming and resource allocation.
4. Establishing clear school-wide and classroom rules about bullying, consistent with the District’s Code of Conduct.
5. Training adults in the school community to respond sensitively and consistently to bullying.
6. Raising awareness among adults, through training, of the school experiences of marginalized student populations (as enumerated in the Definitions section of Policy #0115), social stigma in the school environment, gender norms in the school environment, and strategies for disrupting bullying, intimidation, harassment or other forms of violence.
7. Providing adequate supervision, particularly in less structured areas such as in the hallways, in the cafeteria, on school buses and on the playground.
8. Raising parental awareness and involvement in the prevention program and in addressing problems.
9. Using educational opportunities or curriculum, including, if applicable, the Individual Educational Program (IEP), to address the underlying causes and impact of bullying.
II. Complaint Reporting and Investigation
In order for the Board to effectively enforce this regulation and the related policy and to take prompt corrective measures, it is essential that all targeted individuals and persons with knowledge of bullying report such behavior immediately to the Principal, the Principal’s designee or the Dignity Act Coordinator as soon as possible after the incident so that it may be effectively investigated and resolved. The District will also make a bullying complaint form (see Exhibit #0115-E) available on the District’s website to facilitate reporting. The District will collect relevant data from written and verbal complaints to allow reporting to the Board on an annual basis.
The District will promptly and equitably investigate all complaints, formal or informal, verbal or written. To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated in a confidential manner, although limited disclosure may be necessary to complete a thorough investigation.
In order to assist investigators, individuals should document the bullying as soon as it occurs and with as much detail as possible including: the nature of the incident(s); dates, times, places it has occurred; name of perpetrator(s); witnesses to the incident(s); and the targeted individual's response to the incident.
If, after appropriate investigation, the District finds that a student, an employee or a third party has violated this policy, prompt corrective and possibly disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the Code of Conduct, applicable collective bargaining agreement, District policy or state law. If the reported behavior constitutes a civil rights violation, the complaint procedure associated with that policy will be followed, as applicable. If either of the parties disagrees with the findings of the initial investigation, an appeal may be made to the Superintendent in accordance with the process described below.
To the extent possible, the District will not release the details of a complaint or the identity of the complainant or the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed to any third parties who do not need to know such information. However, because an individual's desire for confidentiality must be balanced with the District's legal obligation to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, and/or to take necessary action to resolve the complaint, the District retains the right to disclose the identity of parties and witnesses to complaints in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know. The staff member responsible for investigating complaints will discuss confidentiality standards and concerns with all complainants.
If a complainant requests that his/her name not be revealed to the individual(s) against whom a complaint is filed, the staff member responsible for conducting the investigation shall inform the complainant that:
1. the request may limit the District's ability to respond to his/her complaint;
2. District policy and federal law prohibit retaliation against complainants and witnesses;
3. the District will attempt to prevent any retaliation; and
4. the District will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs.
If the complainant still requests confidentiality after being given the notice above, the investigator will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request as long as doing so does not preclude the District from responding effectively to the bullying and preventing the bullying of other students.
B. Investigation and Resolution Procedure
1. Stage I - Building-level Complaint Reporting and Investigation Procedure
Whenever a complaint of bullying is received whether verbal or written, it will be subject to a preliminary review and investigation. Except in the case of severe or criminal conduct, the Principal, the Principal’s designee or the Dignity Act Coordinator shall make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints informally at the school level. The goal of informal procedures is to end the bullying, prevent future incidents, ensure the safety of the target and obtain a prompt and equitable resolution to a complaint.
As soon as possible, but no later than three (3) school days following the receipt of a complaint, Principal, the Principal’s designee or the Dignity Act Coordinator should begin an investigation of the complaint by:
1. Reviewing any written documentation provided by the targeted individual(s).
2. Conducting separate interviews of the targeted individual(s), alleged perpetrator(s), and witnesses, if any, and documenting the conversations.
3. Providing the alleged perpetrator(s) a chance to respond and notify him/her that if objectionable behavior has occurred, it must cease immediately. The individual will be made aware of remediation opportunities as well as potential disciplinary consequences.
4. Determining whether the complainant needs any accommodations to ensure his/her safety, and following up periodically until the complaint has been resolved. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:
o A “permanent” hall pass that allows the student to visit a designated adult at any time;
o Access to private bathroom facilities;
o Access to private locker room facilities;
o An escort during passing periods;
o If the student feels unsafe in a specific class, an opportunity for individual tutoring or independent study until the case is resolved;
o An opportunity for independent study at home with District-provided tutor until the case is resolved;
o Permission to use a personal cell phone in the event that the student feels threatened and needs immediate access to parent or guardian;
o Assignment of a bus monitor.
The District recognizes that there is a need to balance accommodations which enhance student safety against the potential to further stigmatize the targeted student. Therefore, each case will be handled individually, and the student, parent/guardian, and school administration will collaborate to establish safety provisions that best meet the needs of the targeted student. Follow-up discussion and/or meetings will be scheduled, as needed, to ensure that safety concerns have been adequately addressed and to determine when and if accommodations need to be changed or discontinued.
Parents of students who are targeted individuals and accused students should be notified within one (1) school day of allegations that are serious or involve repeated conduct.
Where appropriate, informal methods may be used to resolve the complaint, including but not limited to:
a. Discussion with the accused, informing him or her of the District's policies and regulations and indicating that the behavior must stop;
b. Suggesting counseling, skill building activities and/or sensitivity training;
c. Conducting training for the department or school in which the behavior occurred, calling attention to the consequences of engaging in such behavior;
d. Requesting a letter of apology to the target;
e. Writing letters of caution or reprimand; and/or
f. Separating the parties.
Appropriate disciplinary action shall be recommended and imposed in accordance with District policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreement or state law. School Districts should make every effort to attempt to first resolve the misconduct through non-punitive measures.
The investigator shall report back to both the targeted individuals and the accused, within one (1) week notifying them, as appropriate, regarding the outcome of the investigation and the action taken to resolve the complaint. The actions taken will be in conformance with the Remediation / Discipline / Penalties section of this regulation. The target shall report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged perpetrator retaliates against him/her.
If a complaint contains evidence or allegations of serious or extreme bullying, or a civil rights violation, the complaint shall be referred promptly to the Superintendent. The complainant will also be advised of other avenues to pursue their complaint, including contact information for state and federal authorities.
In addition, where the Principal, the Principal’s designee or the Dignity Act Coordinator has a reasonable suspicion that the alleged bullying incident involves criminal activity, he/she should immediately notify the Superintendent, who shall then contact the school attorney, appropriate child protection and, if appropriate, law enforcement authorities.
Any party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation may request a District-level investigation by submitting a written complaint to the Superintendent within thirty (30) days.
2. Stage II - District-level Complaint Reporting and Investigation Procedure
The Superintendent or his/her designee shall promptly investigate and equitably resolve all bullying complaints that are referred to him/her, as well as those appealed to the Superintendent following an initial investigation. In the event the complaint involves the Superintendent, the complaint shall be filed with or referred to the Board President, who shall refer the complaint to an appropriate independent individual for investigation.
The District-level investigation should begin as soon as possible i.e. but not later than three (3) school days following receipt of the complaint by the Superintendent or Board President.
In conducting the formal District-level investigation, the District will endeavor to use individuals who have received formal training regarding such investigations or that have previous experience investigating such complaints.
If a District-level investigation results in a determination that bullying did occur, prompt corrective action will be taken to end the misbehavior in accordance with the Remediation/Discipline/Penalties section of this regulation.
No later than thirty (30) days following receipt of the complaint, the Superintendent (or in cases involving the Superintendent, the Board-appointed investigator) will notify the targeted individual and alleged perpetrator, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation. If additional time is needed to complete the investigation or take appropriate action, the Superintendent or Board-appointed investigator will provide all parties with a written status report within thirty (30) days following receipt of the complaint.
Any party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the District-level investigation may appeal to the Board of Education by submitting a written request to the Board President within thirty (30) days.
3. Stage III - Board-level Complaint Reporting and Investigation Procedure
When a request for review by the Board has been made, the Superintendent shall submit all written statements and other materials concerning the case to the President of the Board.
The Board shall notify all parties concerned of the time and place when a hearing will be held. Such hearing will be held within fifteen (15) school days of the receipt of the request of the complainant.
The Board shall render a decision in writing within fifteen (15) days after the hearing has been concluded.
The District shall retain documentation associated with complaints and investigations in accordance with Schedule ED-1 - Records Retention and Disposition Schedule .
Any individual who violates the governing policy by engaging in bullying will be subject to appropriate action, which may include disciplinary action. Remedial responses to bullying include measures designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior, and protect the target of the act. Appropriate remedial measures may include, but are not limited to:
1. Restitution and restoration;
2. Peer support group;
3. Corrective instruction or other relevant learning or service experience;
4. Changes in class schedule
5. Supportive intervention;
6. Behavioral assessment or evaluation;
7. Behavioral management plan, with benchmarks that are closely monitored;
8. Student counseling;
9. Parent conferences; or
10. Student treatment or therapy.
Environmental remediation may include, but is not limited to:
1. School and community surveys or other strategies for determining the conditions contributing to the relevant behavior;
2. Modification of schedules;
3. Adjustment in hallway traffic and other student routes of travel;
4. Targeted use of monitors;
5. Parent education seminars/workshops;
6. Peer support groups.
Disciplinary measures available to school authorities include, but are not limited to the following:
· Students: Discipline may range from a reprimand up to and including suspension from school, to be imposed consistent with the Code of Conduct and applicable law.
· Employees: Discipline may range from a warning up to and including termination, to be imposed consistent with all applicable contractual and statutory rights.
· Volunteers: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of volunteer assignment.
· Vendors: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of District business.
· Other individuals: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including denial of future access to school property.
Training needs in support of this bullying prevention and intervention program will be reflected in the District’s annual professional development plan, new teacher orientation, in curriculum and will be considered in the budget process. The Dignity Act Coordinator (“DAC”), administrative employees and other staff, such as counselors or social workers who have specific responsibilities for investigating and/or resolving complaints of bullying shall receive yearly training to support implementation of this policy, regulation and on related legal developments.