The Lyme School •  Lyme, New Hampshire
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Policy Manual

Policy: JCA
Pupil Safety And Violence Prevention Policy: Bullying

The Lyme School is committed to providing all pupils a safe, secure, productive, and nurturing educational environment, and encourages the promotion of positive interpersonal relations among members of the school community. Conduct constituting bullying and/or cyber bullying will not be tolerated and is strictly prohibited in accordance with RSA 193-F.

The school shall investigate allegations of bullying and take remedial action, as appropriate, after any such allegations are substantiated. Remedial action may range from behavioral intervention to the imposition of disciplinary measures against any student who commits an act of bullying, falsely accuses another student of bullying, or retaliates against any student or witness who provides information regarding an act of bullying.

The school will promote preventative educational measures to create awareness of aggressive behavior, including bullying.

This policy shall apply to all pupils and school-aged persons on school grounds participating in school functions, regardless of whether or not such school-aged persons are students of the Lyme School, and regardless of their status under the law.

A. Definitions
1. Bullying. Bullying is defined as a single significant incident or a pattern of incidents involving a written, verbal, or electronic communication, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at another pupil which:
• physically harms a pupil or damages the pupil’s property;
• causes emotional distress to a pupil;
• interferes with a pupil’s educational opportunities;
• creates a hostile educational environment; or
• substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school.

Bullying also includes actions motivated by an imbalance of power based on a pupil’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs, or motivated by a pupil’s association with another person based on the other person’s actual or perceived characteristics, behaviors, or beliefs.

2. Cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is defined as any conduct defined as “bullying” in this policy that is undertaken through the use of electronic devices. For purposes of this policy, any references to “bullying” shall include “cyber bullying.”

“Bullying” or “cyber bullying” occurs when an action or communication as defined in Sections A.1. and A.2., above

occurs on, or is delivered to, school property or a school-sponsored activity or event on or off school property; or

occurs off school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity or event, if the conduct interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operations of the school or school-sponsored activity or event.

3. Electronic devices. Electronic devices include, but are not limited to, telephones, cellular phones, computers, pagers, electronic mail, instant messaging devices, text messaging devices, and computer websites.

4. School property. School property means all real property, the physical plant of the school, and all equipment used for school purposes, including public or private school buses or vans.

B. Reporting Acts of Bullying

1. Any student who believes that he/she has been the victim of bullying should report the alleged acts immediately to the Principal, or, if the student is not comfortable reporting to the Principal, to another member of the school staff.

2. Any parent of a student who believes that he/she has been the victim of bullying should report the alleged acts immediately to the Principal or other member of the school staff in writing and complete a written incident report.

3. Any school employee who witnesses or receives a report of bullying—or has knowledge or belief that bullying has occurred— shall inform the Principal, in writing, as soon as possible, but no later than the end of the school day, and shall complete a written incident report.

4. The Principal may develop a system for receiving anonymous reports of bullying. Although students, parents, staff, volunteers, and visitors may report bullying anonymously, formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report. Independent verification shall be necessary in order for any disciplinary action to be taken.

5. Upon receipt of a report of bullying, the Principal shall open an investigation in accordance with Section D. of this policy.

6. After completion of the investigation described in Section D., the Principal shall report all substantiated incidents of bullying to the Superintendent.

C. Parent Notification and Waiver

1. Within 48 hours of receiving a report of bullying, the Principal shall report to the parents or guardians of the student who has been identified as a victim of bullying, and to the parents or guardians of the student(s) who has (have) been identified as the perpetrator(s) of bullying. Such notification may be by telephone, electronic mail, writing, or personal conference. The date, time, method, and location of such notification and subsequent communication shall be noted in the report. The content of the notification shall be consistent with student privacy rights under the applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

2. The Superintendent may, within a 48-hour period, grant the Principal a waiver from the parent notification requirement if the Superintendent deems such waiver to be in the best interest of the alleged victim or perpetrator. Any such waiver granted shall be in writing. The granting of a waiver shall not negate the School’s responsibility to adhere to the remainder of its approved written policy.

D. Investigative Procedures

1. Within five (5) school days of a report of bullying, or sooner if possible, the Principal shall initiate an investigation into the reported incident.

2. The investigation may include documented interviews with the alleged victim, perpetrator, and any witness(es). Any interviews conducted shall be done privately, separately, and in a confidential manner. At no time shall the alleged victim and perpetrator be interviewed together during the investigation.

3. If the alleged bullying was, in whole or in part, cyber bullying, the Principal may ask students and/or parents to provide printed copies of the relevant electronic mail, text messages, website pages, or other electronic communications involved.

4. Where the alleged act or incident of bullying occurs on a school bus, the investigation may include the use of audio or video recordings made pursuant to RSA 570-A:2 and School Board Policy JICC.

5. The Principal’s determination of whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy shall be based on all facts and surrounding circumstances. Factors the Principal may consider during the course of the investigation include, but are not limited to, the following: the nature and frequency of the alleged bullying behavior; the existence of past incidents or a continuing pattern of behavior; characteristics of the parties involved (such as age); the number of individuals participating in the alleged bullying behavior; where the alleged incident(s) occurred; the effects of the alleged bullying on the victim.

6. The Principal shall complete the investigation of the alleged bullying within ten (10) school days of receiving the initial report. If the Principal needs more than ten school days to complete the investigation, the Superintendent or designee may grant an extension of up to an additional seven (7) school days, if necessary. In the event an extension is granted, the Principal shall notify, in writing, all parties involved of the granting of the extension.

7. Within two (2) school days of completion of the investigation, the Principal shall advise the parents or guardians of the alleged victim and perpetrator of the findings and result of the investigation. At the parents’ or guardians’ request, the Principal may schedule a meeting to further explain the findings of the investigation and the reasons for the Principal’s proposed remedial action.

8. Students who have been determined to be in violation of this policy may face discipline in accordance with other applicable board policies, up to and including suspension. Students facing disciplinary procedures will be afforded all due process rights required by law.

E. Remedial Action

1. Consequences for a student who commits a substantiated act of bullying or retaliation may range from remedial action in the form of positive behavioral intervention up to and including suspension or expulsion.

2. Consequences for a student who commits a substantiated act of bullying or retaliation may vary according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student, and the student’s behavioral history.

3. Remedial measures shall be designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior, and protect and provide support for the victim.

4. The Principal and Superintendent shall work with staff to develop responses other than traditional disciplinary measures to remediate substantiated instances of bullying.

F. Appeal

1. For non-disciplinary remedial actions in which no other review procedures govern, the parents or guardians of students involved in substantiated incidents of bullying shall have the right to appeal the Principal’s decision to the Superintendent in writing within five (5) school days. The Superintendent shall review the Principal’s decision and issue a written decision within ten (10) school days. If the aggrieved party is still not satisfied with the outcome, he or she may file a written request for review by the School Board within ten (10) school days of the Superintendent’s decision. The School Board shall adhere to applicable New Hampshire Department of Education administrative rules.

2. Due process and appeal rights for students disciplined for substantiated acts of bullying are provided under RSA 193:13, Ed 317, and school district discipline policy.

G. Reprisal or Retaliation

1. School and/or District administrators shall take appropriate remedial action against any student, teacher, administrator, employee, or school volunteer who retaliates against any person who makes a good faith report of alleged bullying, or against any person who testifies, assists, or participates in a proceeding or hearing relating to such bullying.

2. The remedial action to be taken shall be determined by the Principal or District administration after consideration of the nature, severity, and circumstances of the act, and in accordance with law, district policies, and any applicable collective bargaining agreements.

3. Any student found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to remedial action up to and including suspension and/or expulsion.

4. Any teacher, administrator, or other employee, found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to remedial action up to and including termination of employment.

5. Any school volunteer found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation in violation of this policy shall be subject to measures up to and including exclusion from school grounds.

6. If the alleged bullying victim or any witnesses express to the Principal or other staff member that he/she believes he/she may be subject to reprisal or retaliation, the Principal shall develop a process or plan to protect those persons from possible retaliation.

H. False Reporting

1. Any student who is found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another of bullying may face discipline or other consequences ranging from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension and/or expulsion.

2. Any school employee who is found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused a student of bullying shall face discipline or other consequences to be determined in accordance with applicable law, district policies and procedures, and applicable collective bargaining agreements.

I. Internal Reporting Requirements

1. Within ten (10) school days of substantiation of any incident of bullying, the Principal shall complete all forms required by the New Hampshire Department of Education to report substantiated incidents of bullying, shall retain one copy of said forms, and shall forward one copy to the Superintendent.

2. The Superintendent shall maintain said forms in a safe and secure location.

3. The District shall report substantiated incidents of bullying to the Department of Education annually. Pursuant to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 USC 1232g, such reports shall not contain any personally identifiable information pertaining to any pupil.

J. Immunity
District employees, school employees, regular school volunteers, students, parents, legal guardians, and employees under contract to the school or school district shall be immune from civil liability for good faith conduct arising from or pertaining to the reporting, investigation, findings, recommended response, or implementation of recommended response to alleged acts of bullying.

K. School Officials
The Superintendent is responsible for ensuring that this policy is implemented. In order to facilitate the implementation of this policy, the Superintendent may establish further administrative rules or regulations, as deemed necessary.

L. Distribution and Notice of Policy

1. Students, parents, and staff shall be informed of the School’s prohibition on bullying and the procedure for reporting bullying at the School.

2. The school shall provide educational programs for students and parents in preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying. The inclusion of any specific curriculum, textbook, or other material designed to prevent bullying, however, shall not be required.

3. The Superintendent shall ensure that all school employees receive annual training on bullying and related policies.

4. School staff, students, and parents shall be provided with a copy of this policy annually through a method (e.g., employee, student, or parent handbook; newsletter; mailing; staff workshop) to be determined by the Superintendent.

Legal References:
RSA 193-F:3, Pupil Safety and Violence Prevention
RSA 570-A:2, Capture of Audio Recordings on School Buses Allowed
NH Code of Administrative Rules, Section Ed 306.04(a)(8), Student Harassment

ADOPTED: 8 February 2001
REVISED: 16 December 2010