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JICFB - Bullying Prevention and Intervention

Policy JICFB

Adopted: December 5, 2013
Amended: January 17, 2019

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Statement of Purpose

The Hopkinton Public Schools is committed to fostering and maintaining a safe, nurturing, positive, and productive educational and work environment. Harassment, intimidation and bullying within the Hopkinton Public School community will not be tolerated and all complaints will be taken seriously and promptly investigated. The purpose of this policy is to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying between or among any members of the school community and to offer persons who believe they have been subject to it an efficient and effective means by which to end it.

Scope

This policy applies to all members of the Hopkinton Public School community: staff, defined as and including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, maintenance worker, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity or paraprofessional, and/or contract workers, students, and parents/guardians, while attending school and all extra-curricular and school sponsored activities and events, both on school property and at off-site locations, and during normal school hours as well as during non-school hours.

Definitions

“Bullying” is the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:

  • causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
  • places the target in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property;
  • creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
  • infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
  • materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

“Aggressor/Perpetrator” is a student or staff member of a school, including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessional, who engages in behavior defined as bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation in M.G.L. c.71, §370. This person is sometimes referred to as the “bully.”

“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, 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, including, but not limited to, cell phones, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Cyber-bullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Bullying and cyber-bullying may occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of the home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the full cooperation and assistance of staff, parents/guardians and families are expected.

For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used it is to denote either bullying, or cyber-bullying.

Prohibitions

Bullying is prohibited:

  • On school grounds;
  • On property immediately adjacent to school grounds;
  • At school-sponsored or school-related activities;
  • At functions or programs whether on or off school grounds;
  • At school bus stops;
  • On school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by the school district; or
  • Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the Hopkinton Public Schools.

Bullying and cyber-bullying are also prohibited at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the Hopkinton School District if the act or acts in question:

  • Create(s) a hostile environment at school for the target;
  • Infringe(s) on the rights of the target at school; and/or
  • Materially and substantially disrupt(s) the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Prevention and Intervention

The Superintendent and/or his/her designee(s) shall periodically review a prevention and intervention plan, in consultation with all district stakeholders, consistent with the requirements of this policy, as well as state and federal laws. The plan shall apply to students and all members of school staff. The Principal is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the bullying prevention and implementation plan within his/her school. Consequences will be in accordance with the Student Handbook/Code of Conduct and any relevant special education laws and or regulations.

Reporting

Reports of bullying should be made via the Hopkinton Public Schools Bullying Prevention & Intervention Report Form (JICFB-1) found on each school’s website. Reports may be made online or printed and delivered to a school staff member.

All staff members shall immediately report any instance of bullying or retaliation the staff member has witnessed or become aware of, to the school principal or his/her designee. Other Hopkinton Public School employees, and/or drivers employed by companies providing transportation services to the district, are obligated to report an incident of bullying behavior as soon as possible, generally within one school day. Reports may be made verbally in the interest of timeliness but must be followed up the same day with a written report on the Hopkinton Public Schools Bullying Prevention & Intervention Report Form (JICFB-FRM1).

Students who believe that they are the targets of bullying, observe bullying behavior, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that bullying is taking place, are expected to report incidents either verbally or using the Hopkinton Public Schools Bullying Prevention & Intervention Report Form (JICFB-FRM1) to a member of the school staff. If a verbal report is made, the principal or his/her designee will assist the student in completing the report form.

Parents or guardians are encouraged to report bullying behavior that they witness or their child experiences to the appropriate school principal. If a parent/guardian makes a verbal report to school employees, the employee must report to the principal/designee using the Hopkinton Public Schools Bullying Prevention & Intervention Report Form (JICFB-FRM1).

Each school will accept anonymous reporting of bullying behavior. No formal disciplinary action will be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Any student who knowingly makes a false report of bullying will be subject to disciplinary action.

Notification

The principal or his/her designee, upon determining that a report is viable, will promptly contact the parents/guardians of a student who has been the alleged target or alleged aggressor/perpetrator. The principal may contact a parent/guardian of a target or aggressor/perpetrator about a report of bullying or retaliation prior to a determination that bullying or retaliation has occurred.

A principal’s notification to a parent/guardian about an incident or a report of bullying or retaliation must comply with confidentiality requirements of the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, 603 CMR 23.00, and the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act Regulations, 34 CFR Part 99, as set forth in 603 CMR 49.07. A principal may only disclose information to a parent/guardian about his/her own child. Upon notice of an alleged incident of bullying, a principal must provide a parent/guardian with the Hopkinton Public Schools Parent’s Notice of Procedural Safeguards for Alleged Victims of Bullying. If the alleged target and alleged aggressor/perpetrator attend different district schools, the principal receiving the report will inform the principal of the other student’s school, who will notify the student’s parent/guardian of the report and procedures.

A principal may disclose a determination of bullying or retaliation to a local law enforcement agency under 603 CMR 49 without the consent of a student or his/her parent/guardian. The principal will communicate with law enforcement officials in a manner that protects the privacy of targets, student witnesses, and aggressors/perpetrators to the extent practicable under the circumstances.

A principal may disclose student record information about a target or aggressor/perpetrator to appropriate parties in addition to law enforcement in connection with a health or safety emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals as provided in 603 CMR 23.07(4)(e) and 34 CFR 99.31(a)(10) and 99.36. This provision is limited to instances in which the principal has determined there is an immediate and significant threat to the health or safety of the student or other individuals. It is limited to the period of emergency and does not allow for blanket disclosure of student record information. The principal must document the disclosures and the reasons that the principal determined that a health or safety emergency exists.

A principal must report all allegations of bullying to the superintendent, biannually, by June 30th and December 30th of each year. The superintendent will report alleged incidents of bullying to the Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE), as required.

Investigation

The school principal or designee will promptly investigate the report of bullying, using the Hopkinton Public Schools’ Investigation Form (JICFB-FRM2) to document the investigation. The principal or designee will maintain a file of all documents and notes related to the incident.

The staff will assess an alleged target’s and aggressor’s/perpetrator's need for protection and create and implement a safety plan that will restore a sense of safety for the target.

The investigation will be completed as quickly as possible, following all applicable laws and regulations. The parents or guardians of the aggressor(s)/perpetrator(s) and victim(s) will be contacted upon completion of the investigation and informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, whether disciplinary action has or will be taken, and what will be done to prevent a continuation of bullying or retaliation. At a minimum, the principal or his/her designee will contact parents or guardians/guardians as to the status of the investigation on a weekly basis.

Confidentiality will be maintained, to the extent possible, to protect a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying.

Disciplinary actions for students who have committed an act of bullying or retaliation will be in accordance with the school’s disciplinary policies as detailed in the Student Handbook. If it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor/perpetrator, the principal will consult with the school resource officer and the superintendent to determine if criminal charges are warranted. If it is determined that criminal charges are warranted, the local Police Department will be notified.

A regular summary report of investigations will be provided to the Superintendent/Designee.

Retaliation

Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying will be prohibited.

Students who retaliate will be subject to disciplinary consequences consistent with the guidelines in the school’s Student Handbook.

Target and Aggressor/Perpetrator Support

The Hopkinton Public Schools will provide the services of the district counseling staff, including guidance counselors and adjustment counselors, and any required academic intervention services that are available in the school, as well as protection of the students who have been affected by the bullying as needed to ensure the target is able to receive the education to which he/she is entitled. Protections are extended to students who are bullied by a member of the staff when the staff member is named as an aggressor/perpetrator in a bullying report.The aggressor/perpetrator may also be provided with district counseling services to assist him/her in avoiding bullying behavior.

Training and Assessment

The district will provide annual training to all school employees, volunteers who have significant contact with students, and drivers employed to transport Hopkinton students. Such training will include preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.

The Hopkinton Public Schools curriculum will include age-appropriate, research-based instruction on bullying prevention for K – 12 students. The curriculum may include specific lessons but also whole school or whole district initiatives.

Publication and Notice

Annual written notice of the bullying prevention and intervention plan will be provided to all school staff, parents/guardians, and students. The staff at each school will be trained annually on the bullying prevention and intervention plan applicable to each school. The Employee Handbook will include relevant sections of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan that employees will sign as having read.

The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan will be posted on the Hopkinton Public School’s website.

Legal References:

Title VII, §703, Civil Rights Acts of 1964 as amended

Federal Regulation 74676 Issued by EEO Commission

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

MGL 71:37O, as added by Ch. 92 of the Acts of 2010

MGL 265:43, 43A Criminal Harassment

MGL 268: 13B Intimidating a Witness

MGL 269:14A Annoying Telephone Calls

603 CMR 26 and 49:00 Access to Equal Educational Opportunities/Duty to Notify

Adapted References:

MASC Model Policies

Cross Reference:

AC Non-Discrimination

ACAB Sexual Harassment

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

(JICFB-FRM1) HPS Bullying Prevention and Intervention Report Form 

(JICFB-FRM2) HPS Bullying Investigation Form 

Other Cross References:

High School Student Handbook

Middle School Student & Parent Handbook

Hopkinton Elementary Family Handbook

School Committee Policies

A - Foundations and Basic Commitments

B - School Board Governance and Operations

C - General School Administration

D - Fiscal Management

E - Support Services

F - Facilities Development

G - Personnel

H - Negotiations

There are no policies under this code at this time.

I - Instructional Program

J - Students

K - School-Community Relations

L - Education Agency Relations

There are no policies under this code at this time.