Students 118  PUPIL SAFETY AND VIOLENCE PREVENTION POLICY – BULLYING

 

 

I. Statement Prohibiting Bullying or Cyberbullying of a Student  (RSA 193-F:4, II(a))

 

The Manchester School District 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 hereby prohibited.

 

Bullying in schools has historically included actions shown to be motivated by a student’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry or ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, physical, mental, emotional, or learning disability, gender, gender identity and expression, obesity, or other distinguishing personal characteristics, or based on association with any person identified in any of the above categories.

 

This policy seeks to promote a school atmosphere in which bullying of students will not be tolerated by students, parents, staff, and volunteers.  The District believes that everyone in the school community, including bystanders, plays an important role in preventing bullying of students in our schools.

 

Further, in accordance with RSA 193-F:4, the Manchester School District reserves the right to address bullying and, if necessary impose discipline for bullying that:

 

1.    Occurs on, or is delivered to, school property 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 student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event.

 

The Superintendent or designee is responsible for implementing this policy and designating specific roles to other administrators and staff as well if appropriate.

 

II Definitions  (RSA 193-F:3)

 

1.     “Bullying” is hereby 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 student which:

     Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property;

     Causes emotional distress to a student;                                                                                                                                

     Interferes with a student’s educational opportunities;

     Creates a hostile educational environment; or                         

     Substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.

 

“Bullying” shall also include actions motivated by an imbalance of power based on a student’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs, or motivated by the student’s association with another person and based on the other person’s characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.

 

2.    “Cyberbullying” means any conduct defined as “bullying” in paragraph 1 of this section that is undertaken through the use of electronic devices. For purposes of this policy, any references to the term bullying shall include cyberbullying.

 

3.    “Electronic devices” include, but are not limited to, telephones, cellular phones, computers, pagers, electronic mail, instant messaging, text messaging, and websites.  (This shall include electronic social networking sites.)

 

4.    “Perpetrator” means a student who engages in bullying or cyberbullying.

 

5.     “School property” means all real property and all physical plant and equipment used for school purposes, including public or private school buses or vans.

 

6.     “Victim” means a student against whom bullying or cyberbullying has been perpetrated.

 

Any reference in this policy to “parent” shall include parents or legal guardians.

 

III.   Statement prohibiting retaliation or False Accusations  (RSA 193-F:4, II(b))

 

False Reporting

 

A student found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another of bullying may face discipline or other consequences, ranging from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion.

 

A school employee or student found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused a student of bullying shall face discipline or other consequences 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, teacher, administrator, volunteer, or other employee who retaliates against any person who makes a good faith report of alleged bullying or against any person who testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding or hearing relating to such bullying.

 

1.    The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a student, teacher, administrator or school volunteer, or other employee who engages in reprisal or retaliation shall be determined by the Principal or Administrator after consideration of the nature, severity and circumstances of the act, in accordance with laws, Board policies and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

 

2.    Any student found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to measures up to and including, suspension and expulsion.

 

3.    Any teacher or school administrator found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to discipline up to, and including, termination of employment.

 

4.    Any school volunteer found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to measures up to, and including, exclusion from school grounds.

 

Process To Protect Pupils From Retaliation

 

If the alleged victim or any witness expresses to the Principal or other staff member that he/she believes he/she may be retaliated against, the Principal or administrative designee shall develop a process or plan to protect that student from possible retaliation.

 

Each process or plan may be developed on a case-by-case basis. Suggestions include, but are not limited to, re-arranging student class schedules to minimize their contact, stern warnings to alleged perpetrators, temporary removal of privileges, or other means necessary to protect against possible retaliation.

 

IV.  Protection of all Pupils (RSA 193-F:4, II(c))

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 Consequences for Violation of this Policy  (RSA 193-F:4, II(d))

 

The District reserves the right to impose disciplinary measures 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.

 

In addition to imposing discipline under such circumstances, the Board encourages the administration and school district staff to seek alternatives to traditional discipline, including but not limited to early intervention measures, alternative dispute resolution, conflict resolution and other similar measures.

 

VI.  Distribution and Notice of this Policy   (RSA 193-F:4, II(e))

 

The Superintendent or his/her designee shall provide annual written notice of this policy to students, parents, teachers, staff members, administration, volunteers, and school district agents through appropriate references in school and District handbooks, or through other reasonable means. Parents will be informed of the program and the means for students to report bullying acts toward them or other students.  They will also be told that to help prevent bullying at school they should encourage their children to:

                                                                                                                                     

1.    Reporting bullying when it occurs;

2.    Taking advantage of opportunities to talk to their children about bullying;

3.    Informing the school immediately if they think that their child is being bullied or is bullying other students; and,

4.    Cooperating fully with school personnel in identifying and resolving incidents

 

The Superintendent or his/her designee shall ensure that all school employees, volunteers, and agents receive annual training on bullying and related Board policies.  The District may also host or schedule public forums to discuss and address bullying.

 

Students shall participate in an annual education program which sets our expectations for student behavior and emphasizes an understanding of harassment, intimidation, and bullying of students, the District’s prohibition of such conduct and the reasons why the conduct is destructive, unacceptable, and will lead to discipline. Students shall also be informed of the consequences of bullying conduct toward their peers. The Superintendent may incorporate anti-bullying training and education in the District’s curriculum. Any student training programs shall be written and presented in age appropriate language. The Superintendent, in consultation with staff, may incorporate student anti-bullying training and education into the district's curriculum, but shall not be required to do so.

 

Additional Notice and School District Programs

The Board may, from time to time, host or schedule public forums in which it will address the anti-bullying policy, discuss bullying in the schools, and consult with a variety of individuals including teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, school psychologists and other interested persons.

 

 

VII.  Procedure for Reporting Bullying  (RSA 193-F:4, II(f)

 

At each school, the Principal or administrative designee shall be responsible for receiving complaints of alleged violations of this policy. The Principal may designate this responsibility to a building level administrator with the understanding that the Principal shall be informed of such incidents as soon as possible within the school day.

 

Student Reporting

 

1.    Any student who believes that he or she has been the victim of bullying should report the alleged acts immediately to the Principal or administrative designee. If the student is more comfortable reporting the alleged acts to a person other than the Principal or administrative designee, the student may tell any school district employee or volunteer about the bullying. Students are encouraged to report alleged acts as soon as possible, preferably by the end of the school day.

 

2.    Any school employee or volunteer who witnesses, receives a report, or has knowledge or belief that bullying may have occurred shall inform the Principal as soon as possible, but no later than the end of that school day.

 

3.    The Principal or administrative designee may develop a system or method for receiving anonymous reports of bullying. 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.

 

4.    The administration may develop reporting forms for filing such reports. An investigation shall still proceed even if a student is reluctant to fill out the designated form and chooses not to do so.

 

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

 

 Staff Reporting

 

1.    Staff shall immediately report acts or behavior that they witness that appears to constitute bullying.

 

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

 

3.    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 or administrative designee immediately.

 

4.    Upon receipt of a report of bullying the Principal or administrative designee shall commence an investigation consistent with the provision of Section XI of this policy.

 

VIII.  Procedure for Internal Reporting Requirements  (RSA 193-F:4, II(g))

 

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.  Said forms shall be completed within ten (10) school days of any substantiated incident.  Upon completion of such forms, the Principal or designee shall retain a copy and shall forward one copy to the Superintendent.  The Superintendent shall maintain said forms in a safe and secure location.

 

IX.  Notifying Parents of Alleged Bullying  (RSA 193-F:4, II(h))

 

The Principal or administrative designee shall report to the parents 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  (RSA 193-F:4, II(i))

 

The Superintendent may, within a 48 hour time period, grant the Principal a waiver from the requirement that the parents 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.  Investigative Procedures  (RSA 193-F:4, II(j))

 

1.    Upon receipt of a report of bullying, the Principal or administrative designee shall, within 5 school days, initiate an investigation into the alleged act.  If the Principal or administrative 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 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.

 

4.    A maximum of ten (10) school days from the receipt of the report of bullying shall be the limit for the completion of the investigative procedural steps. During this time the Principal or administrative designee shall ensure that all involved in the reporting of the incident are protected from retaliation.

 

5.    Factors the Principal or other investigator may consider during the course of the investigation, including but 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 or 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 or administrative designee shall complete the investigation within 10 school days of receiving the initial report.  If the Principal or administrative 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 or administrative 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.

 

8.    Students who are found to have violated this policy may face discipline in accordance with other applicable board policies, up to and including suspension or expulsion.

 

9.      Consistent with applicable law, the District will not require or request that a student disclose or provide to the District the student's user name, password or other authenticating information to a student's personal social media account.  However, the District may request to a student or a student's parent/guardian that the student voluntarily share printed copies of specific information from a student's personal social media account if such information is relevant to an ongoing District investigation.

 

XII.  Response to Remediate Substantiated Instances of Bullying  (RSA 193-F:4, II(k))

 

Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for a student or staff member who commits one or more acts of bullying or retaliation may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or 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.   Examples of consequences may include, but are not limited to:

 

     Verbal warning

     Temporary removal from classroom

     Removal of privileges

     Administrative detention

     Referral to counselor

     In-school suspension

     Out-of-school suspension

     Saturday School

     Expulsion

 

Examples of intervention strategies may include, but are not limited to:

 

     Restitution

     Corrective instruction or other relevant learning experience

     Behavior assessment

     Student counseling

     Parent conferences

     Behavior class

     Community service

 

Peer mediation may not be considered as a remedial action as an imbalance of power may make the process intimidating for the victim and exacerbate the problem.

 

In support of this policy, the Board promotes preventative educational measures to create greater awareness of aggressive behavior, including bullying.  The Board encourages the Superintendent to work collaboratively with all staff members to develop appropriate responses and interventions to remediate substantiated instances of bullying.

 

XIII.  Reporting of Substantiated Incidents to the Superintendent  (RSA 193-F:4, II(1)

 

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

 

XIV.  Communication With Parents Upon Completion of Investigation  (RSA 193-F:4II(m)

 

1.    Within two (2) school days of completing an investigation, the Principal shall notify the students involved in person of his/her findings and the result of the investigation.

 

2.    The Principal shall notify via telephone or other reasonable methods to immediately notify the parents of the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator of the results of the investigation. The Principal will also send a letter to the parents within 24 hours again notifying them of the results of the investigation.

 

3.    If the parents request, the Principal shall schedule a meeting with them to further explain his/her findings and reasons for his/her actions.

 

4.    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.

 

XV.  Appeals

A parent or guardian who is aggrieved by the investigative determination letter of the principal or his/her designee may appeal the determination to the Superintendent for review.  The appeal shall be in writing addressed to the Superintendent, shall state the reason(s) why the appealing party is aggrieved, and the nature of the relief they seek.  The Superintendent shall not be required to re-investigate the matter and shall conduct such review as he/she deems appropriate under the circumstances.

It is in the best interests of students, families and the District that these matters be promptly resolved.  Therefore, any such appeal to the Superintendent shall be made within ten (10) calendar days of the parent/guardian's receipt of the investigative determination letter of the principal or his/her designee.  The Superintendent shall issue his/her decision in writing.

If the parent or guardian is aggrieved by the decision of the Superintendent, they may appeal the decision to the school board within ten (10) calendar days of the date of the parent/guardian's receipt of the Superintendent's decision.  An appeal to the Superintendent shall be a prerequisite to any appeal to the School Board. The appeal to the School Board shall be in writing, addressed to School Board Chair in care of the Superintendent, shall state the reason(s) why the appealing party is aggrieved, and the nature of the relief they seek.

An aggrieved parent/guardian has the right to appeal the final decision of the local School Board to the State Board within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the written decision of the local School Board in accordance with RSA 541-A and State of New Hampshire Department of Education Regulations set forth in ED 200.  The State Board may waive the thirty-day requirement for good cause shown, including, but not limited to, illness, accident, or death of a family member.

XVI.  School Officials  (RSA 193-F:4, II(n)

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

 

 

XVII.  Capture of Audio Recordings on School Buses

 

Pursuant to RSA 570-A:2, notice is hereby given that the Board authorizes audio recordings to be made in conjunction with video recordings of the interior of school buses while students are being transported to and from school or school activities.  The Superintendent shall ensure that there is a sign informing the occupants of school buses that such recordings are occurring.

 

XVIII.  Use of Video or Audio Recordings in Student Discipline Matters

 

The District reserves the right to use audio and/or video recording devices on District property (including school buses) to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all staff, students and visitors.  Placement and location of such devices will be established in accordance with the provision of District policy Transportation 101.

 

In the event an audio or video recording is used as part of a student discipline proceeding, such video may become part of a student’s education record.  If an audio or video recording does become part of a student’s education record, the provisions of District policies on student records shall apply.

The Superintendent is authorized to contact the District's attorney for a full legal opinion relative in the event of such an occurrence.

NHSBA Note, September 2015:  New paragraph (Paragraph #9) added to Section XI - Investigative Procedures.  This change is in response to RSA 189:70, effective September 2015.  RSA 189:70 prohibits school districts from requiring students to provide information relative to personal social media accounts.  Districts may request certain information if such information is relative to an ongoing investigation.  However, such information cannot be demanded or required.  RSA 189:70 is also now added to Legal References.

NHSBA Note, September 2014:  Only changes are to Section XV - Appeals.  These changes are included after consultation with school officials as to the manner in which the NH Department of Education is now accepting appeals from school board decisions on bullying-related matters.

 

 

See also the following related policies:

               Students 124 Gang Activity/Secret Societies/Group Affiliation

               Students 125 Hazing

               Students 120 Student Conduct in School/Safe-School Zone

               Safety 121 and Instruction 142 Intranet/Internet Acceptable Use Policy

                                                                                                                               

 

Legal References:

               RSA 189:70, Educational Institution Policies on Social Media

RSA 193-F:3, Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention Act

               RSA 570-A:2, Capture of Audio Recordings on School Buses Allowed

               NH Code of Administrative Rules, Section Ed 306.04(a)(8), Student Harassment

 

 

Adapted from NHSBA Sample Policy JICK

 

Revised from 2/12/01, 1/10/05, 1/14/2019

First Reading Coordination:  11/9/10

Second Reading and Adoption by BOSC: 12/13/10