The School Board of Collier County
Bylaws & Policies
 

5517.01 - BULLYING AND HARASSMENT

Statement Prohibiting Bullying and Harassment

It is the policy of the School Board that all of its students and school employees have an educational setting that is safe, secure, and free from bullying and harassment of any kind. The Board will not tolerate bullying and harassment of any type. Conduct that constitutes bullying and harassment, as defined herein, is prohibited.

Definition: Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment, Cyberstalking, and Scope

"Bullying", which shall include cyberbullying, means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individualís school performance or participation; and may involve but is not limited to:

 A.teasing

 B.social exclusion

 C.threat

 D.intimidation

 E.stalking or cyberstalking

 F.physical violence

 G.theft

 H.sexual, religious, or racial harassment

 I.public or private humiliation

 J.destruction of property

"Cyberbullying" means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which may include, but not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic system, photoelectronic system or photooptical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages, or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying includes the creation of a webpage or weblog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person, or the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying also includes the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

"Harassment" means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or written, verbal or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that:

 A.places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his/her person or damage to his/her property;

 B.has the effect of substantially interfering with a studentís educational performance, opportunities, or benefits;

 C.has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school;

 D.shall include the definitions and principles pertinent to discriminatory and harassing misconduct as set forth in Policy 5517 and incorporated by reference herein.

The definitions of bullying and harassment also encompass the following:

 A.Retaliation against a student or school employee by another student or school employee for asserting or alleging an act of bullying or harassment. Reporting an act of bullying or harassment that is not made in good faith is considered retaliation.

 B.Perpetuation of conduct listed in the definition of bullying or harassment by an individual or group with intent to demean, dehumanize, embarrass, or cause emotional or physical harm to a student or school employee by:

  1.incitement or coercion;

  2.accessing or knowingly and willingly causing or providing access to data or computer software through a computer, computer system, or computer network within the scope of the District school system;

  3.acting in a manner that has an effect substantially similar to the effect of bullying or harassment.

"Cyberstalking", as defined in F.S. 784.048(1)(d), means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images, or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

"Scope" shall be understood to mean the range of District activities as they pertain to this policy.

Type of Behavior Expected of All Individuals on Board Property

The Board expects students to conduct themselves as appropriate for their levels of development, maturity, and demonstrated capabilities with a proper regard for the rights and welfare of other students and school staff, the educational purpose underlying all school activities, and the care of school facilities and equipment.

The Board believes that standards for student behavior must be set cooperatively through interaction among the students, parents/legal guardians, staff, and community members producing an atmosphere that encourages students to grow in self-discipline. The development of this atmosphere requires respect for self and others, as well as for Board and community property on the part of students, staff, and community members. Since students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers will demonstrate appropriate behavior, treat others with civility and respect, and refuse to tolerate bullying or harassment.

The Board upholds that bullying or harassment of any student or employee is prohibited. It is expressly understood, with respect to the examination and accessing of computer software and related data for off-site events, District administrators shall not go to student homes to monitor and/or investigate activities and private devices not on school property, as more fully discussed below:

 A.during any education program or activity conducted by a public K-12 educational institution;

 B.during any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity;

 C.on a school bus of a public K-12 educational institution; or

 D.through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network within the scope of a public K-12 education institution, including, regardless of ownership, any computer, computer system, or computer network that is physically located on school property, or at a school event, or school-sponsored activity; or

 E.through the use of data or computer software that is accessed at a non-school-related location, activity, function, or program or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by a school district or school, if the bullying substantially interferes with or limits the victimís ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by a school or substantially disrupts the education process or orderly operation of a school. This paragraph does not require a school to staff or monitor any nonschool-related activity, function, or program.

Students are expected to conform to reasonable standards of socially acceptable behavior; respect the person, property, and rights of others; obey constituted authority; and respond to those who hold that authority.

The Board shall provide for appropriate recognition and positive reinforcement for good conduct, self-discipline, good citizenship, and academic success.

Such behavior is essential in maintaining an environment that provides each student the opportunity to obtain a high quality education in a uniform, safe, secure, efficient, and high quality system of education.

Consequences for Bullying, Harassment, and Cyberstalking

Consequences and appropriate remedial action for students who commit acts of harassment or found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, as outlined in The Code of Student Conduct (The Code). Consequences and appropriate remedial action for an employee found to have committed an act of bullying or harassment or found to have falsely accused another as a means of bullying or harassment shall include discipline in accordance with Board policies, administrative procedures, and the collective bargaining agreement. Egregious acts of harassment by certified educators may result in a sanction against the educatorís State-issued certificate.

Concluding whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on all of the facts and surrounding circumstances. The physical location or time of access of a computer-related incident cannot be raised as a defense in any disciplinary action. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for students who commit acts of bullying or harassment may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, as outlined in The Code. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for an employee found to have committed an act of bullying or harassment may be disciplined in accordance with Board policies, procedures, and agreements. Additionally, egregious acts of harassment by certified educators may result in a sanction against an educatorís state issued certificate. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a visitor or volunteer, found to have committed an act of bullying or harassment, shall be determined by the school administrator after consideration of the nature and circumstances of the act, including reports to appropriate law enforcement officials. (see State Board of Education Rule F.A.C. 6B-1.006, The Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession in Florida)

Consequences for Wrongful or Intentionally False Reports

Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a student found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another as a means of bullying or harassment range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, as outlined in The Code. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school employee found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another as a means of bullying or harassment may be disciplined in accordance with Board policies, procedures, and agreements. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a visitor or volunteer found to have wrongfully and intentionally accused another as a means of bullying or harassment shall be determined by the school administrator after consideration of the nature and circumstances of the act, including reports to appropriate law enforcement officials.

Reporting Procedures, Including Anonymous Reports

At each school, the Principal is responsible for receiving alleged acts of bullying. All employees are required to report alleged violations of this policy to the Principal or the appropriate administrator. All other members of the school community, including students, parents/legal guardians, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy anonymously or in-person to the Principal.

The Principal of each school in the District shall establish and prominently publicize to students, staff, volunteers, and parents/legal guardians, how a report of bullying or harassment may be filed either in-person or anonymously and how this report will be acted upon. The victim of bullying or harassment, anyone who witnessed the bullying or harassment, and anyone who has credible information that an act of bullying or harassment has taken place may file a report of bullying or harassment. An employee, school volunteer, student, parent/legal guardian or other persons who promptly reports in good faith an act of bullying or harassment to the appropriate school official and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures set forth in the Board policy is immune from a cause of action for damages arising out of the reporting itself or any failure to remedy the reported incident. Submission of a good faith complaint or report of bullying or harassment will not affect the complainant or reporterís future employment, grades, learning, working environment, or work assignments.

Any written or oral reporting of an act of bullying or harassment shall be considered an official means of reporting such act(s). Reports may be made anonymously, but formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

Prompt Investigation Procedure

The investigation of a reported act of bullying or harassment is deemed to be a school-related activity and begins with a report of such an act.

At each school in the District, the Procedures for Investigating Bullying and Harassment include:

 A.The Principal, employed by the school, and trained in investigative procedures will initiate the investigation.

 B.Documented interviews of the victim, alleged perpetrator, and witnesses are conducted privately, separately, and are confidential. Each individual (victim, alleged perpetrator, and witnesses) will be interviewed separately and at no time will the alleged perpetrator and victim be interviewed together.

 C.The investigator shall collect and evaluate the facts including, but not limited to:

  1.description of incident(s) including nature of the behavior; context in which the alleged incident(s) occurred, etc.;

  2.how often the conduct occurred;

  3.whether there were past incidents or past continuing patterns of behavior;

  4.the relationship between the parties involved;

  5.the characteristics of parties involved (i.e., grade and age);

  6.the identity and number of individuals who participated in bullying or harassing behavior;

  7.where the alleged incident(s) occurred;

  8.whether the conduct adversely affected the studentís education or educational environment;

  9.whether the alleged victim felt or perceived an imbalance of power as a result of the reported incident; and

  10.the date, time, and method in which the parents/legal guardians of all parties involved were contacted.

 D.Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a determination based on all the facts and surrounding circumstances and includes:

  1.recommended remedial steps necessary to stop the bullying and harassing behavior; and

  2.a written final report.

 E.The maximum of ten (10) school days shall be the limit for the initial filing of incidents and completion of the investigative procedural steps. The highest level of confidentiality possible will be upheld regarding the submission of a complaint or a report of bullying or harassment, and the investigative procedures that follow.

Investigative Process Within Scope of District and Referral

Principals are trained in investigative procedures to initiate an investigation of whether an act of bullying or harassment is within the scope of the District.

The Principal will provide a report on the results of the investigation and will make a determination if an act of bullying or harassment falls within the scope of the District as follows:

 A.If it is within the scope of the District, move to Procedures for Investigating Bullying or Harassment.

 B.If it is outside the scope of the District, and determined a criminal act, refer to appropriate law enforcement.

 C.If it is outside the scope of the District, and determined not a criminal act, inform parents/legal guardians of their child's involvement.

Computers without web filtering software or computers with web filtering software that is disabled shall be used when complaints of cyberbullying are investigated.

Parent/Legal Guardian Notification

The Principal shall promptly report via telephone, personal conference, and/or in writing, the occurrence of any incident of bullying or harassment as defined by this policy to the parents/legal guardians of their child's involvement in a timely manner when an investigation of the incident(s) has been conducted. Notification must be consistent with the student privacy rights under the applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

If the bullying incident results in the perpetrator being charged with a crime, the Principal shall by telephone or in writing by first class mail, inform parents/legal guardian of the victim(s) involved in the bullying incident about the Unsafe School Choice Option (No Child Left Behind, Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Section 9532) that states "...a student who becomes a victim of a violent criminal offense, as determined by State law, while in or on the grounds of a public elementary school or secondary school that the student attends, be allowed to attend a safe public elementary school or secondary school within the local educational agency, including a public charter school."

Once the investigation has been completed and it has been determined that criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator, all appropriate local law enforcement agencies will be notified by telephone and/or in writing.

Referral of Victims and Perpetrators for Counseling

A District referral procedure will establish a protocol for intervening when bullying or harassment is suspected or when a bullying incident is reported. The procedure shall include:

 A.A process by which the teacher or parent/legal guardian may request informal consultation with school staff (e.g., specialty staff, school counselor, or school psychologist) to determine the severity of concern and appropriate steps to address the concern (the involved studentsí parents or legal guardian may be included).

 B.A referral process to provide professional assistance or services that includes:

  1.A process by which school personnel or parent/legal guardian may refer a student to the school intervention team (or equivalent school-based team with a problem-solving focus) for consideration of appropriate services. (Parent or legal guardian involvement is required at this point.)

  2.If a formal discipline report or formal complaint is made, the Principal must refer the student(s) to the school intervention team for determination of counseling support and interventions. (Parent or legal guardian involvement is required at this point.)

 C.A school-based component to address intervention and assistance as determined appropriate by the intervention team that includes:

  1.counseling and support to address the needs of the victims of bullying or harassment;

  2.research-based counseling/interventions to address the behavior of the students who bully and harass others (e.g., empathy training or anger management);

  3.research-based counseling/interventions which includes assistance and support provided to parents/legal guardians, if deemed necessary or appropriate.

Reporting Bullying, Harassment, and Cyberstalking

The report must include each alleged incident of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and cyberstalking and the resulting consequences, including discipline and referrals. The report must include, in a separate section, each reported incident of bullying or harassment that does not meet the criteria of a prohibited act under this section (and reported as "unsubstantiated bullying" or "unsubstantiated harassment") with recommendations regarding such incidents. Cyberbullying incidents are to be included within the bullying incidents policy.

The Board will utilize Floridaís School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) Statewide Report on School Safety and Discipline Data, which includes bullying and harassment as incident codes as well as bullying-related as a related element code.

The SESIR definition of bullying is systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; or unreasonably interfere with the individual's school performance or participation.

The SESIR definition of harassment is any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of data or computer software, or written, verbal, of physical conduct that 1) places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his/her person or damage to his/her property; 2) has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or 3) has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school including any course of conduct directed at a specific person that causes substantial emotional distress in such a person and serves no legitimate purpose.

If a bullying or harassment incident occurs then it will be reported in SESIR with the bullying or harassment code. If the bullying or harassment results in any of the following SESIR incidents the incident will be coded appropriately using the relevant incident code AND the related element code entitled bullying-related code. Those incidents are:

 A.alcohol use and/or possession

 B.arson

 C.assault and battery

 D.breaking and entering

 E.disruption on campus

 F.drug use and/or possession

 G.major fighting

 H.homicide

 I.kidnapping

 J.larceny/theft

 K.robbery

 L.sexual battery

 M.sexual harassment

 N.sexual offenses

 O.threat/intimidation

 P.vandalism

 Q.weapons possession

 R.trespassing

 S.tobacco

 T.other major (other major incidents that do not fit within the other definitions)

Discipline and referral data will be recorded in Student Discipline/Referral Action Report and Automated Student Information System.

It is the policy of the Board to provide bullying incident, discipline, and referral data to the Florida Department of Education in the format requested, through Survey 2, 3, and 5 from Education Information and Accountability Services, and at designated dates provided by the Department.

Instruction on Identifying, Preventing, and Responding to Bullying and Harassment

The Board requires that schools sustain healthy, positive, and safe learning environments for all students. It is important to change the social climate of the school and the social norms with regards to bullying and harassment. This requires the efforts of everyone in the school environment Ė teachers, administrators, counselors, school nurses, other non-teaching staff (such as bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers, and/or school librarians), parents/legal guardians, and students.

Students, parents/legal guardians, teachers, school administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers shall be given instruction at a minimum on an annual basis on the Board's policy and regulations against bullying and harassment. The instruction shall include evidence-based methods of preventing bullying and harassment, as well as how to effectively identify and respond to bullying in schools.

Instruction regarding bullying, harassment, and the District's violence prevention and school safety efforts shall be integrated into District curriculum at the appropriate grade levels. The training and instruction shall include recognizing behaviors that lead to bullying and harassment and taking appropriate preventative action based on those observations. The programs of training and instruction authorized by the District shall include, but not be limited to:

 A.Positive Behavior Support/Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBS/PBIS)

 B.Common Sense K-12 Digital Citizenship

 C.Creating a Safe and Respectful Environment in Our Nation's Classrooms

 D.StopBullying.gov - Prevention at School

Regular Reporting to Victim's Parents/Legal Guardians Concerning of the Protection of the Victim

The Principal shall by telephone and/or in writing report the occurrence of any incident of bullying or harassment as defined by this policy to the parent or legal guardian of all students involved on the same day an investigation of the incident has been initiated. According to the level of infraction, parents/legal guardians will be notified by telephone and/or writing of actions being taken to protect the child; the frequency of notification will depend on the seriousness of the bullying or harassment incident. Notification must be consistent with the student privacy rights under the applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA).

Publication of this Policy including its Publication in the District's Code of Student Conduct and in Employee Electronic Communications

At the beginning of each school year, the Superintendent shall, in writing, inform school staff, parents/legal guardians, or other persons responsible for the welfare of a student of the Districtís school safety and dating violence and/or abuse prevention policies.

Each District school shall provide notice to students and staff of this policy through appropriate references in The Code and employee handbooks, and/or through other reasonable means. The Superintendent shall also make all contractors contracting with the Board aware of this policy.

Each school Principal shall develop an annual process for discussing the Board policy on bullying and harassment with students in a student assembly or other reasonable format. Reminders of the policy and bullying and harassment prevention messages such as posters and signs will be displayed around each school and on the school buses.

This policy has been developed in consultation with students, parents, teachers, administrators, school staff, school volunteers, community representatives, and local law enforcement agencies as prescribed in F.S. 1006.147 and in conformity with the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) Model Policy.

F.S. 110.1221, 1002.20, 1006.09(6), 1006.13, 1006.135, 1006.07(2), 1006.147
Florida Department of Education Model Policy (Revised April 2016)

Adopted 11/20/08
Revised 3/11/14
Revised 8/9/16

© Neola 2013