J - Students




Bullying - Administrative Procedure

NEPN/NSBA Code: JICK-R

This procedure is intended as guidance for school administrators in carrying out their responsibilities when bullying is alleged to have occurred. It provides important definitions as well as steps for reporting, investigating and responding to allegations of bullying.

Bullying behavior alleged to be based on race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, religion or disability should be addressed under the procedures set forth in the Student Harassment and Sexual Harassment procedure, ACAA-R, rather than under this procedure.

Definitions

The following terms are defined in Maine law (chapter 659 and 20-A MRSA § 6554):

A.   “Bullying” includes, but is not limited to a written, oral or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof directed at a student or students that: 

1.     Has, or a reasonable person would expect it to have, the effect of: 

a.     Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property; or

b.     Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to his/her property; or 

      2.   Interferes with the rights of a student by:

a.     Creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment for the student; or

b.     Interfering with the student’s academic performance or ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by the school; or

3.  Is based on: 

a.    A student’s actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, physical or mental disability, or any other distinguishing personal characteristic (such as socioeconomic status; age; physical appearance; weight; or family status), or

b.    A student’s association with a person with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics or any other distinguishing characteristics; and that has the effect described in subparagraph (1) or (2) above.

“Bullying” includes cyberbullying.

B. “Cyberbullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, including but not limited to, a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted by the use of any electronic device including, but not limited to, a computer, telephone, cellular telephone, text messaging device or personal digital assistant.” 

For the purpose of this policy, bullying does not mean mere teasing, put-downs, “talking trash,” trading of insults, horseplay, or similar interactions among friends, nor does it include expression of ideas or beliefs so long as such expression is not lewd, profane or does not interfere with students’ opportunity to learn, the instructional program or the operations of the schools. This does not preclude teachers or school administrators from setting and enforcing rules for civility, courtesy and/or responsible behavior in the classroom and the school environment.

The determination whether particular conduct constitutes bullying requires reasonable consideration of the circumstances, which include the frequency of the behavior at issue, the location in which the behavior occurs, the ages and maturity of the students involved, the activity or context in which the conduct occurs, the perceptions of physical or psychological power, and the nature and severity of the conduct.

C.  “Retaliation means” an act or gesture against a student for asserting or alleging an act of bullying. “Retaliation” also includes reporting that is not made in good faith on an act of bullying (i.e., the making of false allegations or reports of bullying). 

D. “School grounds” means a school building; property on which a school building or facility is located; and property that is owned, leased or used by a school for a school-sponsored activity, function, program, instruction or training. “School grounds” also includes school-related transportation vehicles. 

E.   “Alternative discipline” means disciplinary action other than suspension or expulsion from school that is designed to correct and address the root causes of a student’s specific misbehavior while retaining the student in class or school, or restorative school practices to repair the harm done to relationships and persons from the student’s misbehavior.”

Bullying Reports

Bullying or suspected bullying is reportable in person or in writing (including anonymously) to school personnel using the school unit’s Reporting Form (JICK-E1).

 

School staff, coaches and advisors for extracurricular and cocurricular activities are required to report alleged incidents of bullying to the school principal or other school personnel designated by the superintendent.  Any other adult working or volunteering in a school will be encouraged to promptly report observed or suspected alleged incidents of bullying to the building principal or school personnel designated by the superintendent.

 

Students who are believed to have been bullied or are aware of incidents of bullying are strongly encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator.  

 

Parents and other adults who believe that an incident of bullying has occurred are encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator. 

Acts of reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an incident of bullying are prohibited.  Any student who is determined to have knowingly falsely accused another of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences.

Reports of alleged bullying may be made anonymously, except by school staff, coaches and advisors, but in no instance will disciplinary action be taken against any person or organization affiliated with the schools solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

The building principal/assistant principal will forward a copy of the report to the Superintendent.

Safety Measures

The school principal or superintendent’s designee will communicate to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student(s) who was believed to have been bullied the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the student who was believed to have been bullied and to prevent further acts of bullying.

These measures are documented on the Responding Form (JICK-E2)

 

[NOTE:  School personnel should be careful to respect the confidentiality of student information when communicating with the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a student who was believed to have been bullied. It should be sufficient to inform the parents of what the school is doing to protect the student from further alleged bullying behaviors and to convey that the incident will be investigated and appropriate actions will be taken, without providing details that would be considered a violation of FERPA or an invasion of privacy.]

Interim Measures

The building principal/assistant principal may take such interim measures as he/she deems appropriate to ensure the safety of the targeted student and prevent further bullying and will inform the parents of the targeted student of measures taken.

I. Responding/Investigation

The principal/assistant principal will:

  • Ensure that all reports of bullying and retaliation are investigated promptly and that documentation of the investigation, including the substance of the complaint or report and the outcome of the investigation is prepared and forwarded to the Superintendent within a reasonable period of time.
  • Inform parent(s) or guardian(s) of the student(s) who was alleged to have bullied AND of the student(s) who was believed to have been bullied that a report of an alleged incident of bullying has been made;
  • Communicate to the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a student(s) who was believed to have been bullied the measures being taken to ensure the safety of the student(s) who was believed to have been bullied and to prevent further acts of bullying;
  • Inform parent(s) or guardian(s) of the students involved the findings of the investigation and actions to be taken;
  • Communicate with local or state law enforcement agency if it’s believed that the pursuit of criminal charges or a civil action under the Maine Civil Rights Act may be appropriate.

II.  Remediation

 

If it is determined that there is a substantiated incident of bullying, the school principal or superintendent’s designee will:

  • Determine the specific nature(s) of the incident, alternative discipline actions, and appropriate consequences;
  • Complete the Remediation Form (JICK-E3);
  • Provide a copy of the Remediation Form to the superintendent; and
  • Assure that the substantiated incident of bullying is reported to the Maine Department of Education.

Alternative discipline includes but is not limited to:

  1. Meeting with the student and/or the student’s parents;
  2. Reflective activities, such as requiring the student to write an essay about the student’s misbehavior;
  3. Mediation when there is mutual conflict between peers, rather than one-way negative behavior, and when both parties freely choose to meet;
  4. Counseling;
  5. Anger management;
  6. Health counseling or intervention;
  7. Mental health counseling;
  8. Participation in skills building and resolution activities, such as social-emotional cognitive skills building, resolution circles and restorative conferencing;
  9. Youth Court
  10. Community service; and
  11. In-school detention or suspension, which may take place during lunchtime, after school or on weekends. 

If the bullying behavior appears to be a criminal violation, the building principal/assistant principal will notify local law enforcement authorities.

If bullying has been substantiated, the building principal/assistant principal will provide written notification to:

A. The parents/guardians of the targeted student, including the measures being taken to ensure the student’s safety; and to

B.  The parents/guardians of the student found to have engaged in bullying, including the process for appeal.

All communications to parents must respect the confidentiality of student and employee information as provided by federal and Maine law and regulations.

III. Appeals

The parent(s) or guardian(s) and student must be notified of the right to appeal the school principal’s or superintendent’s designees’ decision related to taking or not taking remedial action.  Any appeal of the building principal assistant principal’s decisions in regard to consequences for bullying must be submitted, in writing, within 14 calendar days of the parental notification. The Superintendent will review the investigation report and actions taken and decide whether to sustain or deny the appeal. The Superintendent’s decision shall be final.

Cross Reference: ACAA-R – Student Harassment and Sexual Harassment Procedure

JICK – Bullying

JRA-R – Student Education Records and Student Information

Adopted: May 9, 2013

Revised:  October 13, 2016

Bullying and Harassment Reporting Form (JICK-E1)

Bullying and Harrassment Responding Form (JICK-E2)

Bullying and Cyberbullying Remediation Form (JICK-E3)