Bullying Policy 5517.01

5517.01 - BULLYING

The School Board is committed to providing a safe, positive, productive, and nurturing educational environment for all of its students. The Board encourages the promotion of positive interpersonal relations between members of the school community. Bullying behavior toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. This prohibition includes physical, verbal, and psychological abuse as provided herein. The Board will not tolerate any gestures, comments, threats, or actions which cause or threaten to cause bodily harm or personal degradation. This policy applies when a student is on school grounds immediately before or during school hours, immediately after school hours, or at any other time when the school is being used by a school group; off school grounds at a school activity, function, or event; traveling to or from school or a school activity, function, or event; or, using property or equipment provided by the school. Additionally, this policy applies regardless of the physical location when:

A. the individual committing the bullying behavior and any of the intended targets of the bullying behavior are students attending a school within the Corporation; and B. the bullying behavior results in a substantial interference with school discipline or an unreasonable threat to the rights of others to a safe and peaceful learning environment.

Bullying as defined in State law means overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications transmitted, physical acts committed, aggression, or any other behaviors committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the other student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment that:

A. places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to the targeted student's person or property; B. has a substantially detrimental effect on the targeted student's physical or mental health; C. has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student's academic performance; or D. has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, and privileges provided by the school.

This type of behavior is a form of harassment, although it need not be based on any of the legally protected characteristics, such as race, color, national origin, marital status, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or genetic information. It includes, but is not limited to, such behaviors as stalking, intimidation, menacing behavior, coercion, name-calling, taunting, making threats, and hazing.

Any student who believes s/he has been or is currently the victim of bullying should immediately report the situation to the building principal or assistant principal, or the Superintendent. The student also may report concerns to a teacher or counselor who will be responsible for notifying the appropriate administrator or Board official. Complaints against the building principal should be filed with the Superintendent. Complaints against the Superintendent should be filed with the Board President.

Every student is encouraged, and every staff member is required, to report any situation that they believe to be bullying behavior directed toward a student. Reports may be made to those identified above.

All complaints about bullying behavior that may violate this policy shall be promptly investigated.

If the investigation finds an instance of bullying behavior has occurred, it will result in prompt and appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion for students, discharge for employees, exclusion for parents, guests, volunteers, and contractors, and removal from any official position and/or a request to resign for Board members. Bullying acts may be reported to law enforcement officials.

The complainant shall be notified of the findings of the investigation and as appropriate, any remedial action that has been taken to the extent disclosure is permitted by law.

Retaliation against any person who reports, is thought to have reported, files a complaint, or otherwise participates in an investigation or inquiry concerning allegations of bullying is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of Board policy and independent of whether a complaint is substantiated. Suspected retaliation should be reported in the same manner as bullying. Making intentionally false reports about bullying for the purpose of getting someone in trouble is similarly prohibited and will not be tolerated. Retaliation and intentionally false reports may result in disciplinary action as indicated above.

For a definition of and instances that could possibly be construed as hazing, consult Policy 5516.

Confidentiality

To the extent appropriate and/or legally permitted, confidentiality will be maintained during the investigation process. However, a proper investigation will, in some circumstances, require the disclosure of names and allegations.

Safe School Committee

In accordance with State law, there shall be a Safe School Committee in each school within this Corporation (see Policy 8400 - School Safety).

Failure to implement rules prohibiting bullying and procedures for reporting and investigating alleged bullying in accordance with Ind. Code 20-33-8-13.5 does not give rise to a cause of action against a person or the School Corporation. Moreover, noncompliance with the requirements of Ind. Code 20-33-8-13.5 cannot be used as evidence in any lawsuit against a person or the School Corporation.

The Superintendent is directed to develop administrative guidelines to implement this policy. Guidelines shall include reporting and investigative procedures, as needed. The complaint procedure established by the Superintendent shall be followed.

I.C. 5-2-10.1, 20-20-8-8, 20-30-5-5.5, 20-33-8-0.2, 20-33-8-13.5, 20-34-6-1

Revised 11/4/13

© Neola 2013