JICFB: Bullying Prevention

The Melrose Public Schools is committed to providing a safe, positive, and productive educational environment where students can achieve the highest academic outcomes. No student will be subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation for reporting such incidents.

“Bullying” means the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or a paraprofessional of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. The definition of “bullying” will include “cyber-bullying”.

“Perpetrator” means a student or a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or a paraprofessional who engages in bullying or retaliation.

“Cyber-bullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, that includes, but is not limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a: (i) wire; (ii) radio; (iii) electromagnetic device; or (iv) photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages, facsimile communications, or texts.

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

Cyber-bullying also includes 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, above.

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 parents/guardians are expected.

Bullying is prohibited on school grounds; on property immediately adjacent to school grounds; at school-sponsored or school-related activities; at school functions or programs whether on or off school grounds; at school bus stops; on school vehicles owned, leased or used by the district; or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the Melrose Public Schools.

Bullying is 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 Melrose Public Schools if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school or function.

Categories of Vulnerable Students

It is recognized that certain students may be more vulnerable to becoming a target of bullying and harassment based on actual or perceived differentiating characteristics. These characteristics include but are not limited to age, race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and/or disability.

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.

Hostile Environment

A situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the student’s education.

Prevention and Intervention Plan

The Superintendent and/or designee will oversee the development, oversight, and updating of a prevention and intervention plan, in consultation with all district stakeholders, that may include teachers, school staff, professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies, students, and parents/guardians, consistent with the requirements of this policy as well as state and federal laws. The plan will apply to students and members of school staff, including, but not limited to educators, administrators, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to an extracurricular activity, and paraprofessionals. The consultation will include, but not be limited to, notice and a public comment period. The plan will be reviewed and updated at least biennially. The principal is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the plan within each school.

Reporting

Students who believe they are a victim of bullying or retaliation, observe an act of bullying or retaliation, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are obligated to report incidents to a member of the school staff. The victim will, however, not be subject to discipline for failing to report bullying or retaliation.

Each school will have a means for anonymous reporting by students of incidents of bullying or retaliation. No formal disciplinary action will be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action.

Parents/guardians or members of the community are encouraged to report an incident of bullying or retaliation as soon as possible.

A member of a school staff will immediately report any instance of bullying or retaliation the staff member has witnessed or become aware of to the school principal or designee.

Investigation Procedures

The principal or designee, upon receipt of a viable report, will promptly contact the parents/guardians of a student who has been the alleged victim or alleged perpetrator of bullying or retaliation. The actions being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation will be discussed with the parents/guardians of the victim.

The principal or a designee will promptly investigate the report of bullying using a Bullying/Cyber-bullying Report Form that may include interviewing the alleged victim, alleged perpetrator, staff members, students, and/or witnesses.

Support staff will assess an alleged victim’s needs for protection and create and implement a safety plan that will restore a sense of safety to that student.

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

If a principal or a designee determines that bullying has occurred, he/she will take appropriate disciplinary action and if it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the 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 law enforcement agency will be notified.

The investigation will be completed within fourteen school days from the date of the report. The parents/guardians 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, and whether disciplinary action has or will be taken. At a minimum, the principal or designee will contact the parents/guardians as to the status of the investigation on a weekly basis.

Disciplinary actions for students who have committed an act of bullying or retaliation will be in accordance with district disciplinary policies.

Each school will document any incident of bullying that is reported per this policy and the principal or designee will maintain a file accordingly. A monthly report will be provided to the Superintendent.

Victim Assistance

The Melrose Public Schools will provide counseling or referral to appropriate services to students, both victims and perpetrators, affected by bullying, and for appropriate family members as necessary.

Training and Assessment

Annual training will be provided for school staff in preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying. Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention will be incorporated into the curriculum for all K-12 students.

Publication and Notice

Annual written notice of the relevant student-related sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan will be provided to students and their parents/guardians in age-appropriate terms and in the languages which are most prevalent among the students, parents or guardians. Annual written notice of the plan will be provided to all school staff. The faculty and staff at each school will be trained annually on the plan that is applicable to the school. Relevant sections of the plan relating to the duties of faculty and staff will be included in the employee handbook. The bullying prevention and intervention plan will be posted on the Melrose Public Schools website.

MSC first vote: 5/27/14
MSC second vote: 6/10/14