Bullying Policy

STUDENT DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT
BULLYING/INTIMIDATION

DECEMBER 2012
POLICY REVISION – 6.304


GENERAL STATEMENTS AND DEFINITIONS

The Board has determined that a safe, civil, and supportive environment is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards, and therefore prohibits acts of harassment, bullying, or intimidation.

Harassment or bullying, like other disruptive or violent behavior is conduct that disrupts both a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate students in a safe environment.

Harassment or bullying is any gesture or written, verbal, graphic, or physical act (including electronically transmitted acts) that may be reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic including, but not limited to race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; or a mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment; or by any other distinguishing characteristic. Nothing in this policy shall prevent the school system from responding to an incident due to a lack of an identifiable motivation. Such behavior is considered harassment or bullying whether it takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, or in a school vehicle. Behaviors off school property, including designated bus stops or through electronic media may be subject to this policy to the extent that such behavior disrupts the learning environment of the school.

Bullying is conduct that meets one or more of the following criteria:
  • Is an act directed at one or more students that is intended to harm or embarrass;
  • Is repeated over time; and
  • Involves an imbalance of physical, emotional, or social power.

Bullying behavior has the potential to:
  • Interfere with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs;
  • Adversely affect the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from programs or activities by placing the student in reasonable fear of physical harm or emotional distress; and
  • Be based on a student’s actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic.

Harassment is conduct that meets one or more of the following criteria:
  • Is an act directed at one or more students that is received as harmful or embarrassing;
  • Substantially interferes with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs;
  • Substantially affects the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from programs or activities by placing the student in reasonable fear of physical harm or emotional distress;
  • Is based on a student’s actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic;
  • Is repeated over time, is severe, persistent, and pervasive;
  • Causes mental duress, or psychological trauma to the victim; or
  • May constitute violations of Title VI, Title IX, or Section 504.

Violations of Title VI, IX or 504 should be reported to the appropriate officials at the Central Office.

This policy does not deny the right of any individual to pursue other avenues of recourse which may include filing a complaint with the OCR of TN or USDE or initiating a civil action in court.

The Board deems intimidation as a possible form or expression of harassment or bullying.

Cyberbullying is defined as the use of information and communication technologies (e-mail, text or picture messages, defamatory web sites, social networking, etc.) to support deliberate, hostile behavior intended to frighten or harm others.

Hazing includes, but is not limited to, any act that recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or as a condition or precondition of attaining membership in, or affiliation with, any district-sponsored activity or grade level attainment.

The Board prohibits any behavior aimed at defining a student in a sexual manner or conduct impugning the character of a student based on allegations of sexual promiscuity.

BEHAVIOR EXPECTATIONS
The Board expects all employees, volunteers, and students to conduct themselves in a manner in keeping with their levels of development, maturity, and demonstrated capabilities with a proper regard for the rights and welfare of others. Appropriate behavior includes treating others with civility and respect, and rebutting to tolerate harassment or bullying.

PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION RESPONSE
Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for bullying or harassment may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion.
School administrators shall consider the nature and circumstances of the incident, age and maturity, degree of harm, previous incidences or patterns of behavior, and other factors as appropriate to properly respond to each situation. Consequences for a student who commits such acts shall be unique to the individual incident and will vary in method and severity according to the nature of the behavior and must be consistent with the approved code of student conduct.

Remedial measures shall be designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior, and protect the victim of the act.

BYSTANDERS
Since bystander support of harassment or bullying can promote these behaviors, the district encourages all witnesses to respond appropriately (safe intervention and reporting) when these behaviors are observed.

REPORTING AND INVESTIGATION
The principal/designee shall be responsible for receiving complaints alleging violations of this policy. The principal is responsible for determining whether an alleged act constitutes a violation of this policy. In doing so, a prompt, thorough and complete investigation of each alleged incident shall be conducted. Within the parameters of FERPA, a report on the investigation will be delivered to the parents of the complainant and accused students and to the Director/Designee within ten (10) school days of the allegation.

REPRISAL, RETALIATION, OR FALSE ACCUSATIONS
The Board prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of harassment or bullying.
The Board prohibits any person from falsely accusing another of having committed an act of harassment or bullying as means of reprisal or retaliation or of harassment or bullying.
Consequences for a student who commits such acts shall be unique to the individual incident and will vary in method and severity according to the nature of the behavior and must be consistent with the approved code of student conduct.




STUDENT CONCERNS, COMPLAINTS & GRIEVANCES
FIRST READING

DECEMBER 2012
POLICY REVISION – 6.305 


STUDENT CONCERNS & COMPLAINTS
Decisions made by school personnel which students believe are unfair or in violation of pertinent policies or school rules may be appealed to the school principal or designated representative. Appeals should be made in writing. The appeal will usually be decided confidentially and promptly, preferably within five (5) school days. If a decision is not made within ten (10) school days following the complaint, students or parents may appeal to the Director/Designee. An investigation and decision will be made within five (5) school days, and communicated to the principal and to the student.

DISCRIMINATION/HARASSMENT GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES

Filing a Complaint - Any student who wishes to file a discrimination/harassment grievance against another student or employee may file a written or oral complaint with a complaint manager. Students may also report such allegations to any teacher or adult employed in the school who shall inform a complaint manager of the allegation. The complaint should include: identity of the alleged victim and person accused; location, date, time, and circumstances, description, identity of witnesses, and any other evidence.

Investigation – Within twenty-four hours of receiving the complaint, the complaint manager shall notify the complaining student’s parent/guardian and the principal shall inform the Director/designee. The parent/guardian shall be given notice of the right to attend an interview of the student in a non-intimidating environment in order to elicit full disclosure of the student’s allegations. This interview shall take place within five (5) school days from the time the complaint was first made. If no parent/guardian attends the interview, another adult, mutually agreed upon by the student and the complain manager, shall attend and may serve as student advocate. After a complete investigation, if the allegations are substantiated, immediate and appropriate corrective or disciplinary action shall be initiated. The complaint and identity of the complainant will not be disclosed except as required by law, or as necessary to investigate the complaint. A school representative will meet with and advise the complainant of the findings, and whether corrective measures and/or disciplinary actions were taken. The investigation and response to the complainant will be completed within thirty (30) school days. Copies of the report will be sent to the student, principal, Rights Coordinator, and Director of School. One copy shall be kept in the complaint manager’s file for one (1) year beyond the student’s 18th birthday.

Decision & Appeal – If either party is not in agreement with the findings of fact, an appeal may be made within five (5) school days to the Director. The Director will review the investigation, make any corrective action deemed necessary and provide a written response to the complainant. If either party is not in agreement with the Director’s findings of fact, appeal may be made to the Board within five (5) school days. The Board shall, within thirty (30) days from the date of appeal, review the investigation and the actions of the Director, and may support, amend, or overturn the actions based upon review and report their decision in writing to the complainant.

COMPLAINT MANAGERS
At least two complaint managers, one of each gender, shall be appointed for each school. The Federal Rights Coordinator may serve as complaint manager.

Building administrators are responsible for educating and training their respective staff and students as to the definition and recognition of discrimination/harassment.