|The School Board of Monroe County|
|Bylaws & Policies|
5517.01 - ANTI-BULLYING POLICY
The School Board is committed to providing an educational setting that is safe, secure, and free from harassment and bullying for all of its students and school employees.
The District will not tolerate bullying and harassment of any type. Conduct that constitutes bullying and harassment, as defined herein, is prohibited:
|A.||during any education program or activity conducted by the District;|
|B.||during any school-related or school-sponsored program or activity or on a school bus of the District; or|
|C.||through the use of data or computer software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, or computer network of the District|
This policy has been developed in consultation with District 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.
The Superintendent shall develop a comprehensive plan intended to prevent bullying and harassment and to cultivate the school climate so as to appropriately identify, report, investigate, and respond to situations of bullying and harassment as they may occur on school grounds, at school-sponsored events, and through school computer networks or that may impact the safety of students while at school. Implementation of the plan will be ongoing throughout the school year and will be integrated with the school curriculum, District disciplinary policies, and violence prevention efforts.
"Bullying"means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one (1) or more students or employees. It is defined as any unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by an adult or student, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual's school performance or participation; and may involve but not limited to:
|I.||destruction of property|
"Bullying"and "harassment" also encompass:
|A.||Retaliation against a student or school employee by another student or school employee for asserting or alleging an act of bullying of 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 and/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;|
|4.||engaging in bullying against an individual on the basis but not limited to the individual's: sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, or educational), martial status, socio-economic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or social/family background, or being viewed as different in its education programs, or admissions to education programs.|
"Cyber-bullying"means electronically transmitted acts (i.e., internet, e-mail, cellular telephone, personal digital assistance (PDA), or wireless hand-held device) that a student or a group of students exhibits toward another particular student(s) and the behavior both causes mental and/or physical harm to the other student and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student(s).
"Cyber-stalking"means to engage repetitively in an unwanted 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.
"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 student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits; or|
|C.||has the effect of substantially negatively impacting a student’s or employee’s emotional or mental well-being; or|
|D.||has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.|
"Stakeholders"include Any School Board member, District employee, consultant, contractor, agent, visitor, volunteer, student or other person in the school or at school sponsored events or on school buses, or other district facilities.
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.
The District expects all stakeholders to conduct themselves in keeping with 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 standards for student behavior shall be set cooperatively through interaction among students, parents/guardians, staff and community member, producing an atmosphere that encourages students to grow in self-discipline. The development of such an atmosphere requires respect for self and others, as well as for District and community property on the part of students, staff, and community members. School board, administrators, faculty, staff, community partners and volunteers serve as role models for students and are expected to demonstrate appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment or bullying.
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 appropriately to those who hold that authority.
The District shall provide for appropriate recognition and positive reinforcement for good conduct, self-discipline, good citizenship, and academic success.
Consequences and appropriate remedial action for students who commit acts of bullying or 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 Student Handbook.
Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school 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 District policies, administrative procedures, and the collective bargaining agreement. Egregious acts of harassment by certified educators may result in a sanction against an educator's State-issued certificate. (See the Principles of Professional Conduct of the Education Profession in Florida - F.A.C. 6B-1006)
Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a visitor or volunteer 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 be determined by the school administrator after consideration of the nature and circumstances of the act, including reports to appropriate law enforcement officials if appropriate.
Procedure for Reporting
Any student or student's parent/guardian who believes s/he has been or is the victim of bullying or harassment should immediately report the situation to the school principal. The student may also report concerns to teachers and other school staff who will be responsible for notifying the appropriate administrator. Complaints against an employee should be reported to their supervisor. All reports should be filed as soon as possible and may be filed up to ninety days after the last alleged act of bullying occurred.
All other members of the school community, including students, parents, volunteers, and visitors, are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy.
Written and oral reports shall be considered official reports. Reports may be made anonymously. Reports may be delivered to the front office at each school. A reporting form can be found at Keysschools.com Formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
The principal shall establish and prominently publicize to students, staff, volunteers, and parents the procedure for reporting bullying and how such a report will be acted upon. A victim of bullying and/or harassment, anyone who witnessed the act, and anyone who has credible information that an act of bullying and/or harassment has taken place may file a report.
Procedure for Investigation
All complaints about bullying and/or harassment that may violate this policy shall be promptly investigated by an individual, designated by the principal, who is trained in investigative procedures. Documented interviews of the victim, alleged perpetrator, and witnesses shall be conducted privately and shall be confidential. The investigator shall collect and evaluate the facts including but not limited to:
|A.||the nature of the behavior;|
|B.||how often the conduct occurred;|
|C.||whether there were past incidents or past continuing patterns of behavior;|
|D.||the relationship between the parties involved;|
|E.||the characteristics of the parties involved;|
|F.||the identity of the alleged perpetrator, including whether the individual was in a position of power over the individual allegedly subjected to bullying or harassment;|
|G.||the number of alleged bullies/harassers;|
|H.||the age of the alleged bully/harasser;|
|I.||where the bullying and/or harassment occurred;|
|J.||whether there have been other incidents in the school involving the same or other students;|
|K.||whether the conduct adversely affected the student's education or educational environment;|
|L.||the context in which the alleged incidents occurred; and|
|M.||the physical location or time of access of a computer-related incident cannot be raised as a defense in any disciplinary action initiated pursuant to this policy.|
Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of the policy requires a determination based on all the facts and surrounding circumstances and shall include:
|A.||a recommendation of remedial steps necessary to stop the bullying and/or harassing behavior; and|
|B.||a written report to the principal or supervisor|
Reasonable effort shall be made to respond expeditiously to all reports of bullying. A 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 shall be provided regarding the submission of a complaint or a report of bullying and/or harassment and for the investigative procedures that are employed.
The investigator will provide a report on the results of the investigation with recommendations for the principal to make a determination if an act of bullying or harassment falls within the scope of District authority. If the action is within the scope of the District, District procedures for investigating bullying and/or harassment shall be followed. If the action is outside the scope of the District, and believed to be a criminal act, the action shall be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. If the action is outside the scope of the District and believed not a criminal act, the principal shall inform parents/guardians of all students.
The principal or designee shall report the occurrence of an incident of bullying as defined by District policy to the parent/guardian of all students known to be involved in the incident after a determination has been made that there has been an incident of bullying as it is defined. Notification shall be by telephone or by personal conference and in writing and shall be consistent with the student privacy rights under applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). The notice shall advise the individuals involved of their respective due process rights including the right to appeal any resulting determination or action to the State Board of Education.
If the bullying incident results in the perpetrator being charged with a crime, the principal shall inform the parent/guardian of the identified victim(s) involved in the bullying incident about the Unsafe Schools Choice Option (No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Title IX, Part E, Subpart 2, Section 932) that states:
"A student attending a persistently dangerous public elementary school or secondary school, as determined by the State in consultation with a representative sample of local educational agencies, or 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 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."
Upon the completion of the investigation and if criminal charges are to be pursued against the perpetrator, the appropriate law enforcement agencies shall be notified by telephone and/or in writing.
The District shall provide a referral procedure for interventions that will go to a committee when such support is needed. Each school principal will establish which committee will review referrals at their school for bullying intervention.
School-based intervention and assistance will be determined by the school-based committee and may include, but is not limited to:
|A.||counseling and support to address the needs of the victims of bullying|
|B.||counseling intervention to address the behavior of those who bully (e.g., empathy training, anger management)|
|C.||intervention which includes assistance and support provided to parents|
|D.||analysis and evaluation of school culture with resulting recommendations for interventions aimed at increasing peer ownership and support|
The District will utilize Florida's School Environmental Safety Incident Reporting (SESIR) Statewide Report on School Safety and Discipline Data as prescribed. If a bullying and/or harassment incident occurs it will be reported in SESIR, coded appropriately using the relevant incident code and the related element code. Discipline and referral data will be recorded in Student Discipline/Referral Action Report and Automated Student Information System. Using a district defined code the District shall include each reported incident of bullying or harassment that does not meet the criteria of a prohibited act under this policy with recommendations regarding such incidents.
The District will provide bullying incident, discipline, and referral data to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE) in the format requested, through Survey 5 from Education Information and Accountability Services, and at designated dates provided by the Department.
Training and Instruction
Training for students, parents teachers, area/district staff, school board, district and school based administrators, students support staff, counseling staff, bus drivers, School Resource Officers, contractors, and school volunteers on identifying, preventing and responding to bullying will be conducted.
At the beginning of each school year, the school principal and department heads shall provide awareness of this policy, as well as the process for reporting incidents, investigation and appeal to students, school staff, parents, or other persons responsible for the welfare of students through appropriate references in the Student Handbook, Employee Handbooks, the district website, and/or through other reasonable means.
Victim's Parent Reporting
The principal shall report the occurrence of an incident of bullying as defined herein to the parent/guardian of students known to be involved in the incident after a determination has been made that there has been an incident of bullying as it is defined. Notification shall be by telephone or in conference and shall be consistent with the student privacy rights under applicable provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA). According to the level of infraction, the victim's parents will be notified by telephone and/or in writing of actions being taken to protect the child; the frequency of notification will depend on the seriousness of the bullying or harassment incident.
At the beginning of each school year, the Superintendent shall inform school staff, parents/guardians/other persons responsible for the welfare of a student of the District's student safety and violence prevention policy.
The District shall provide notice to students and staff of this policy in the Student Handbook, employee handbooks and the district website. The Superintendent will also provide such notification to all District contractors.
Each principal shall implement a process for discussing, at least annually, the District policy on bullying and harassment with students. Reminders of the policy and bullying prevention messages will be displayed, as appropriate, at each school and at District facilities.
A school employee, school volunteer, students, parent/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 District 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 reporter's future employment, grades, learning or working environment, or work assignments. Such immunity from liability shall not apply to an employee, student, or volunteer determined to have made an intentionally false report about harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying.
|A.||To the greatest extent possible, all complaints will be treated as confidential and be handled in accordance to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and any other applicable law.|
|B.||Limited disclosure may be necessary to complete a thorough investigation. The District’s obligation to investigate and take corrective action may supersede an individual’s right to privacy.|
|C.||The complainant’s identity shall be protected, but absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The identity of the victim of the report shall be protected to the extent possible.|
|A.||Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment in connection with filing a complaint of assisting with an investigation under this Policy.|
|B.||Retaliatory or intimidating conduct against any individual who has made a bullying complaint or any individual who has testified, assisted, or participated, in any manner, in a investigation is specifically prohibited, and will be treated as another incidence of bullying.|
This policy does not imply to prohibit expressive activity protected by the First Amendment of the United State Constitution or Article I, Section of the Florida Constitution.
F.S. 110.1221, 1002.20, 1006.13, 1006.147
Florida Department of Education Model Policy (June 2008)