Harassment Policy

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School, 2010

(Adopted by the Board of Trustees December 8, 2010)

Harassment, Bullying and Retaliation Policy

Definition of Harassment

The definition of harassment is any activity or conduct of a physical, verbal or written nature that is designed to hurt, embarrass, agitate, taunt, or tease a student or has the effect to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission. The behavior under the definition of harassment may include, but is 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).

Definition of Bullying

Bullying is defined by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as “the repeated use by one or more students 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.

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 bullying. Retaliation is prohibited.

Prevention

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 Harassment, 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, Rights, Code of Conduct, and Harassment, 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.

Response

When behavior or actions are identified as harassment, 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 harassment, 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. (Please see the school’s Harassment, Bullying and Retaliation Intervention document.)

Scope

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.

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