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BULLYING PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION

BrightBeginningsCenter Parent Handbook



On May 3, 2010 Governor Patrick signed an Act Relative to Bulling in Schools.  This new law prohibits bullying and retaliation in all public and private schools, and requires schools and school districts to take certain steps to addressing bullying incidents.  Relevant sections of the law (M.G.L. c. 71, §37O) are described below.



These requirements will be included in the Hopedale Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan, which must be finalized no later than December 31, 2010.  The Plan will include the requirements of the new law, and also information about the policies and procedures that Hopedale will follow to prevent bullying and retaliation, or to respond to it when it occurs.  In developing the Plan, we must consult with school and local community members, including staff, and parents and guardians.



Definitions



Aggressor is a student who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation.



Bullying is the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:  (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property; (ii) places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property; (iii) creates a hostile environments at school for the target; (iv) infringes on the rights of the target at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.  Bullying includes cyberbullying.



Cyberbullying is bullying through the use of technology or any electronic devices such and telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet.  It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings.



Hostile Environment is 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.



Target is a student against whom bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.



Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.



Prohibition Against Bullying



 

Bullying is prohibited:

 

·         on school grounds,

·         on property immediately adjacent to school grounds,

·         at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function, or program, whether it takes place on or off school grounds,

·         at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased, or used by a school district or school,

·         through the use of technology or an electronic device that is owned, leased or used by the Hopedale Public Schools (for example, on a computer or over the Internet).

·         At any program or location that is not school-related, or through the use of personal technology or electronic device, if the bullying 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 of the orderly operation of a school.



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



Reporting Bullying



Anyone, including a parent or guardian, student, or school staff member, can report bullying or retaliation. Reports can be made in writing or orally to the director or another staff member, or reports may be made anonymously.



Mrs. Susan Mulready, Bright Beginnings Director - 508-634-2213 – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



School staff members must report immediately to the director or her designee if they witness or become aware of bullying or retaliation.  Staff members include, but are not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessionals. 



When the school director or her designee receives a report, she shall promptly conduct an investigation.  If the school director determines that bullying or retaliation has occurred, she shall (i) notify  the parents or guardians of the target, and to the extent consistent with state and federal law, notify them of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation; (ii) notify the parents or guardians of an aggressor; (iii) take appropriate disciplinary action; and (iv) notify the local law enforcement agency if the school director believes that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor.



Professional Development for School and District Staff



The district must provide ongoing professional development to increase the skills of all staff members to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying.



The content of such professional development is to include, but not be limited to: (i) developmentally appropriate strategies to prevent bullying incidents; (ii) developmentally appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents; (iii) information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place between and among an aggressor, target, and witnesses to the bullying; (iv) research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment; (v) information on the incidence and nature of cyberbullying; and (vi) Internet safety issues as they relate to cyberbullying.



Additional information about the school’s or district’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan will be made available when it is finalized.