5131.3 – Student – Student Activities – Bullying/Cyberbullying

Policy – x
Regulation –
Exhibit –

Adopted – 6/14/2012
Revised – 5/25/2017

Philosophy and Application

The Board of Education is committed to providing a safe, positive learning environment for all students. The Board recognizes that bullying and cyberbullying create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, detract from the safe environment necessary for student learning, and may lead to more serious violence. All forms of bullying by students are hereby prohibited.

This policy shall apply to all academic programs and extracurricular activities, including school-sponsored events away from school and while traveling to and from any school activity.

Definition

For the purposes of this policy, bullying shall mean verbal, written or physical conduct involving sexual harassment, hate violence, and/or harassment, threats, or intimidation by a student or group of students that has or is likely to have the effect of:

1. Causing a student to fear harm to the student or the student’s property;
2. Physically, emotionally or mentally harming a student;
3. Interfering with a student’s academic performance; or
4. Interfering with a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s services, activities, or privileges.

Bullying includes “cyberbullying” which is committed on or off campus through an electronic device and involves the creation or transmission of a communication such as:

1. An inappropriate message, text, sound, video, or image;
2. A post on a social networking site that involves a burn page, a credible impersonation, or a false profile; or
3. An act of cyber sexual bullying which involves a photograph or other visual recording of a nude, semi-nude or sexually explicit image of an identifiable minor.

The terms “bullying” and “cyberbullying” shall not be interpreted to infringe upon a student’s right to engage in legally protected speech or conduct.

Reports of Suspected Bullying and Cyberbullying

Any student who believes that he/she is being, has been subjected to, or has witnessed bullying or cyberbullying shall immediately report the incident to a school employee and/or contact the district’s anonymous, confidential reporting system. Parents and/or guardians, on behalf of their child, are similarly expected to immediately report incidents of bullying or cyberbullying to the principal and/or to contact the district’s anonymous, confidential reporting system. Any reports of suspected bullying or cyberbullying will be forwarded to the school principal or designee.

Staff shall be alert and responsive to any reports of suspected bullying or cyberbullying. Upon witnessing an act of bullying, staff members are expected to immediately intervene, unless intervention would pose a threat to the staff member’s safety. A school employee who witnesses or receives a report of suspected bullying must immediately report the alleged conduct to the principal or designee.

If applicable, a student, parent/guardian or employee may file a formal complaint with the Superintendent or designee in accordance with the district’s uniform complaint procedures (BP 1312.3).

Any student who retaliates against another for reporting bullying or cyberbullying may be subject to disciplinary action.
Investigation

Upon receiving a report or complaint of suspected bullying or cyberbullying, the principal, Superintendent, and/or designee will determine the extent to which the matter will be investigated. Parent(s) of the students directly involved will be contacted and an investigation shall be conducted by school district administrators or by a third party designated by the school district. The investigation may include interviews with students, parents, and staff; review of school records; and identification of parent and family issues.

In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes a violation of this policy, the investigator should consider the surrounding circumstances, the nature of the behavior, past incidents or continuing patterns of behavior, the relationships between the parties involved and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on all of the facts and surrounding circumstances. The investigation will be completed thoroughly and as soon as practicable.

The administration shall take appropriate steps to protect the privacy of accusers and/or victims and to assure that they are not subjected to retaliation.

Disciplinary Action and Intervention

Any student who engages in bullying or cyberbullying will be subject to disciplinary action and/or intervention including, but not limited to, warning, counseling, parent contact, detention, restriction of activities, exclusion, suspension, involuntary transfer, and expulsion. A student may be subject to discipline for off-campus bullying or cyberbullying, which occurs through an electronic act which is created or transmitted on or off the school site in accordance with Education Code Section 48900(r) and state and federal law. The superintendent or designee shall document and consider such issues as the effect of the conduct, whether the conduct is related to a school activity or attendance, and whether the conduct poses a substantial disruption.

Depending on the severity of the incident, the principal may also take additional steps to ensure student safety. These may include, but are not limited to, implementing a safety plan; separating and supervising the students involved; providing staff support for students; and developing a supervision plan with the parents. Any employee who permits bullying or cyberbullying may be subject to disciplinary action including, but not limited to, warning, suspension, transfer, and dismissal. Consequences shall be commensurate with the findings of the investigation. Any student who engages in bullying or cyberbullying of a student may also be subject to criminal prosecution.

School staff may receive professional development on bullying and cyberbullying, including information about early warning signs of bullying/cyberbullying behaviors and effective prevention and intervention strategies. Parents/guardians and students also may be provided with similar information.

The California Department of Education provides resources for parents, administrators, and students on how bullying can be prevented and addressed. Such resources are available on the California Department of Education’s website at http://www.cde.ca.gov.

Documentation

The Superintendent or designee shall maintain a record of reported cases of bullying and cyberbullying to enable the district to monitor, address and prevent bullying and cyberbullying behavior in its schools.

Communication of Policy

Each school site administrator shall be responsible for implementing programs that are designed to promote positive social interactions, inform students of their rights and responsibilities under this policy, and notify students and parents about the district’s anonymous, confidential reporting system.

School Discipline Plans (BP 5144.1 Suspension/Expulsion Due Process) shall prohibit bullying and cyberbullying. All parents and/or guardians will receive a copy of the School Discipline Plan upon registering their child at any school site in the district. Students in grades 6 through 12 will also receive a copy of the School Discipline Plan each year. School Discipline Plans shall be articulated among the district’s schools sites to encourage consistent and developmentally appropriate application of this policy.

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