Bullying and Retaliation Policy
Definition of Bullying
Bullying is defined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as “the repeated use by one or more students, or a member of the 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 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 or herself or damage to his or her property; (iii) creates a hostile environment 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 orderly operation of a school.” Bullying involves an imbalance of power due to repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation directed against a target who cannot properly defend him or herself because of size or strength, or because the target is outnumbered or less psychologically resilient. Deliberate and repetitive are characteristics of Bullying that gives it a separate category for attention by this community. The behavior under the definition of Bullying may include, but not limited to:
Physical (physical harm to individuals or school property), Social (rumors and exclusion by a group), Verbal (name calling, teasing, threatening or implied threats),
Intimidation (taking of or unauthorized use of property or possessions), Written (threatening notes or graffiti), Sexual (comments or actions of a sexual nature that cause discomfort), Racial or Religious (comments or actions with racial, ethnic or religious overtones that cause discomfort), and Cyber (the use of the phone, cell phones, computers, or other electronic equipment through text messaging, Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, or other applications to commit acts of harassment within the school community). Bullying and Cyber Bullying are prohibited.
Perpetrator: 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 paraprofessional who engages in bullying or retaliation.
Definition of Retaliation
Retaliation is defined as any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment directed against a person who reports a bullying incident, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about retaliation. Retaliation is prohibited.
The school will work to create a climate of safety, where protecting the students from acts of harassment or bullying is important to each and every member of the community. The school will strive to create an environment where students can clearly identify and comfortably communicate to the staff any behavior that is identified as harassment or bullying. The school will strive to create an environment where bystanders and observers will intervene to protect others without fear of repercussions.
The key to the Bullying and Retaliation Policy is having a strong educational and prevention program in place. The school will use all reasonable resources to eliminate harassment, bullying and retaliation, beginning with a discussion of the School Pillars, School Rights, Code of Conduct, and Bullying and Retaliation Policy in the school at the beginning of each school year. Daily community Morning Meetings and classroom advisory meetings will support the education and prevention programs. The school will use age appropriate programs and tools to educate students on appropriate behavior and what should be done if inappropriate behavior is observed at the school and school-related activities. The school will provide the staff with annual training to prevent, identify and respond to actions on the part of students and staff that could be defined as harassment or bullying.
· Annual staff training and professional development for all staff in the prevention, identification and intervention of bullying and retaliation will occur.
· The review of the Bullying and Retaliation Policy and prevention and intervention procedures will take place during training.
· The review of the Technology Acceptable use Policy including the identification, prevention and intervention of cyber bullying and internet safety will take place during training.
· A discussion of students at risk for bullying will occur during staff training.
· A discussion and training will take place on the topic of information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place among a perpetrator, a target and witnesses to bullying.
· Each student and staff member will participate in daily Morning Meeting to recognize and celebrate every member of the community.
· Daily classroom meetings will occur to greet, discuss, and brainstorm using Responsive Classroom and/or Positive Discipline models.
· Each student and will participate in activities during the first month of each school year to discuss, define and illustrate the School’s Pillars and Rights, and review the Code of Conduct, Technology Acceptable Use Policy (Cyber Bullying and Internet safety) and Bullying and Retaliation Policy.
· Each parent/Guardian will be informed that the Bullying and Retaliation policy can be located on the school’s website www.mvpcs.org.
· The school will sponsor an educational forum on the reinforcement of school bullying and retaliation policies, curriculum, the dynamics of bullying, retaliation, cyber bullying and internet safety each school year.
When behavior or actions are identified as bullying or retaliation they will be brought to the attention of the staff, teachers and administration. The staff, teachers and administration will respond appropriately to resolve conflicts. When incidents involving bullying and retaliation occur the response includes taking care of the target, the aggressor and using the incident as an educational opportunity. If action is deemed necessary by the Director or Designee, the response will be age-appropriate and include the education of all parties involved: target, aggressor, witnesses, and parents or guardians to prevent any similar behavior in the future. If a local, state or federal law has been determined to be broken, the appropriate authorities will be notified.
Reporting, Intervention and Response Procedures to Bullying and Retaliation Procedures for Staff, Students, Parents/Guardians, and Other
Intervention occurs when negative interactions, behavior or retaliation are witnessed, overheard or reported. This intervention includes an investigation, a completed incident report and notification of and support to all concerned including parents/Guardians.
Procedures for Reporting, Investigating and Setting Consequences
· Reporter contacts the Director/Designee in confidence. Anonymous reporting of bullying and/or retaliation can be done through a note in a staff member’s mail box and will be treated as all other reports.
· Director/Designee contacts the students’ advisor(s) and the School Adjustment Counselor
· Director/Designee informs the Parents/Guardians of targets and aggressors directly after conducting an investigation and determining that a bullying and/or retaliation incident has taken pace.
· Director/Designee contacts others (Director of Special Education), if appropriate and necessary.
· Counseling, referral services and education for all students and family members affected and/or involved in a bullying and/or retaliation incident will be provided.
· A safety plan will be created for the target to address his/her needs.
· A safety and protection plan will be designed for the reporter and others who provided information during the investigation
· Bullying, retaliation and false accusations are deemed very serious and may result in suspension from school, school-related activities, and exclusion from school activities.
· The local law enforcement officials will be contacted if criminal charges will be pursued.
· The Director/Designee will notify parents/guardians of actions to be taken to prevent further acts of bullying and/or retaliation.
The school community is identified as the school building, school busses and bus stops, the playground, associated school grounds, or areas that include school sponsored activities such as field trips, community service, mentorships, class trips, and interactions between members of the school community, and the use of school technology. Bullying conduct unrelated to school that creates a hostile environment at school, infringes on the rights of students at school, or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or orderly operation of the school is within this scope.
Staff, teachers, students, and other members of the community who feel that they were harassed or bullied by school personnel or students, as defined in MGL Chapter 151Cs 1 (e) and Title IX of the Federal Amendments of 1972 20 U.S.C. 1681, can bring their grievances to the attention of the school’s Sexual Harassment Officer and Title IX Coordinator, Claudia Ewing.