After several months of hard work by a committee made up of school officials, police, students and community members a comprehensive bullying policy was drafted to deal with the ever-changing world.
The Boonville R-1 School Board went a step further and accepted the policy, which will now be implemented throughout the district.
The district states in the policy that in order to promote a safe learning environment for all students, the Boonville R-I School District prohibits all forms of bullying. The district also prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of bullying among or against students.
“In accordance with state law, bullying is defined as intimidation, unwanted aggressive behavior, or harassment that is repetitive or is substantially likely to be repeated and causes a reasonable student to fear for his or her physical safety or property; that substantially interferes with the educational performance, opportunities or benefits of any student without exception; or that substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school. Bullying includes, but is not limited to: physical actions, including violence, gestures, theft, or property damage; oral, written, or electronic communication, including name-calling, put-downs, extortion, or threats, or threats of reprisal or retaliation for reporting such acts,” according to the district.
As times have changed, cyberbullying has become more of a problem.
“Cyberbullying is a form of bullying committed by transmission of a communication including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound or image by means of an electronic device including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or pager. The district has jurisdiction over cyberbullying that uses the district's technology resources or that originates on district property, at a district activity or on district transportation. Even when cyberbullying does not involve district property, activities or technology resources, the district will impose consequences and discipline for those who engage in cyberbullying if there is a sufficient nexus to the educational environment, the behavior materially and substantially disrupts the educational environment, the communication involves a threat as defined by law, or the district is otherwise allowed by law to address the behavior,” according to the district.
According to the policy the principal of each building is hereby designated as the individual to receive and investigate reports of bullying.
“Each building principal shall designate at least two teachers, guidance counselors, or administrators in the building who are authorized to receive and investigate reports of bullying in the principal's absence or at the principal's discretion,” according to the policy.
The district compliance officer appointed will serve as the district-wide anti-bullying coordinator.
“The anti-bullying coordinator will receive all completed investigative reports from all buildings and analyze the reports to identify any information that would inform the district'santidiscrimination and anti-bullying education and training programs. In addition, the anti bullying coordinator will assist in making any relevant reports as required by state and federal law,” policy states.
Policy allows school employees, substitutes or volunteers the authority to intervene to prevent student bullying, appropriately discipline the perpetrator, assist the victim and report the incident to the building principal or designee for further investigation and action.
“Any school employee, substitute or volunteer who witnesses or has firsthand knowledge of bullying of a student must formally report using the district approved Bullying Incident Report, the incident to the building principal or designee as soon as possible, but no later than two school days after the incident. Students who have been subjected to bullying, or who have witnessed or have knowledge of bullying, are encouraged to promptly report such incidents to a School employee. Any School employee receiving such a report shall promptly transmit the report to the building principal or designee. If the bullying incident involves students from more than one district building, the report should be made to the principal or designee of the building in which the incident took place or, if more appropriate, to the principal or designee of the building attended by the majority of the participants in the incident,” the policy states.
An investigation should begin within two school days from when the report was filed.
“The building level administrator and two additional designees will initiate an investigation of the incident. Reports that involve students from multiple buildings will be investigated cooperatively by the principals of each building involved, or those principals may request that the district's compliance officer designated in policy conduct the investigation. If at any time during the investigation the principal determines that the bullying involves illegal discrimination, harassment or retaliation as described in policy, the principal will report the incident to the compliance officer designated in that policy, who will assist in the investigation. If the alleged bullying involves a special education student or a student with disabilities, the principal will also notify the special education director,” policy read “The investigation shall be completed within 10 school days of the date the report of bullying was received unless good cause exists to extend the investigation. Upon completion of the investigation, the principal will decide whether bullying or harassment occurred and, if so, whether additional discipline is warranted in accordance with the district's student discipline code. The principal will generate a written report of the investigation and findings and send a copy of the completed report to the district's anti-bullying coordinator. The principal or designee will document the report in the files of the victim and the alleged or actual perpetrator of bullying. All reports will be kept confidential in accordance with state and federal law. If the incident involved allegations of illegal discrimination or harassment, the principal's decision may be appealed in accordance with policy AC. Student discipline may be appealed when allowed by law in accordance with Board policy. The principal or other appropriate district staff will work with victims and their families to access resources and services to help them deal with any negative effects that resulted from the incident.”
The district is taking bullying seriously, especially in laying out consequences of actions of this act.
“Students who participate in bullying, who retaliates knowingly against anyone who reports bullying, makes and/or who makes false reports of bullying, will be disciplined in accordance with the district's discipline code. Such discipline may include detention, in-school suspension, out-of-school suspension, expulsion, removal from participation in activities, exclusion from honors and awards, and other consequences deemed appropriate by the principal or superintendent. The district will also contact law enforcement when required by law or notify social media companies of inappropriate online activity when appropriate,” the district stated in its policy. “Even in situations where the district does not have jurisdiction to discipline a student for bullying, such as when the acts take place off campus and there is an insufficient nexus to the district, the principal or designee will take appropriate actions to assist student victims. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, contacting the parents/guardians of the victim and the alleged perpetrators, communicating that this behavior is not allowed on district grounds or at district activities, notifying the appropriate district staff to assist the victim, and taking additional action when appropriate, such as notifying law enforcement or Social media companies of inappropriate online activity.”
Consequences do not only extend to the students but also to school officials as well.
“District employees and substitutes who violate this policy will be disciplined or terminated. Discipline may include suspension with or without pay, a negative evaluation, prohibition from being on district property or at district activities, mandated training or other appropriate remedial action. Volunteers who violate this policy will no longer be permitted to volunteer,” the policy stated. “The district shall annually notify students, parents/guardians, district employees, substitutes and volunteers about this policy and the district's prohibition against bullying. A copy of this policy shall be included in student handbooks and posted on the district's website.”
Furthermore, to help provide an even safer environment the district's anti-bullying coordinator will provide information and appropriate training on an annual basis designed to assist employees, substitutes and volunteers who have significant contact with students in identifying, preventing and responding to incidents of bullying.
“The district will provide education and information about bullying and this policy to students every year. The principal of each school, in consultation with school counselors and other appropriate school employees, will determine the best methods for facilitating the discussion, Methods may include, but are not limited to: assemblies; homeroom presentations; class meetings; team or club meetings; special presentations by counselors, social workers or mental health professionals; and open-house events. When practical, parents/guardians will be invited to attend,” according to policy.