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Bullying

MURRAY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
Statement of Policy and Responsibility
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SUBJECT:  BULLYING, CYBERBULLING, HARASSMENT, HAZING AND RETALIATION

I. PURPOSE
Bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and hazing of students and employees are against federal, state and local policy, and are not tolerated by Murray School District and its schools. Murray School District is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect. Murray School District has in place policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to reduce and eliminate bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and hazing — including but not limited to civil rights violations — as well as processes and procedures to deal with such incidents. Bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and hazing of students and/or employees by students and/or employees will not be
tolerated in Murray School District.

School officials have the authority to discipline students for off – campus speech that causes or threatens a substantial disruption on campus or school activities, including violent altercations, or a significant interference with a student’s educational performance and involvement in school activities. If, after an investigation, a student is found to be in violation of this policy, the student shall be disciplined by appropriate measures up to, and including, suspension and expulsion, pursuant to Utah Code Ann. §53A-11-904 and in accordance with the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, loss of participation in extracurricular activities, and/or probation. If, after an investigation, a school employee is found to have violated this policy, the employee shall be disciplined by appropriate measures up to, and including, termination.

II. DEFINITIONS

A.  “Bullying” means intentionally or knowingly committing an act that:

  1.  endangers the physical health or safety of a school employee or student;
    a.  involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;
    b.  involves consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance;
    c.  involves other physical activity that endangers the physical health and safety of a school employee or student; or
    d.  involves physically obstructing a school employee’s or student’s freedom to move; and
  2. is done for the purpose of placing a school employee or student of fear of:
    a. physical harm to the school employee or student: or
    b.  harm to property of the school employee or student.
  3. The conduct described above constitutes bullying, regardless of whether the person against whom the conduct is committed directed, consented to, or acquiesced in, the conduct.
  4. In addition to the above, Murray School District considers bullying to be aggressive behavior that:
    a.  is intended to cause distress and harm;
    b.  exists in a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power and strength; and
    c.  is repeated over time.

B.  “Civil rights violation” means bullying (including cyberbullying), harassing, or hazing that is targeted at a federally protected class.

C.  “Cyberbullying” means:

  1. using the Internet, a cell phone, or another device to:
    a. send or post text, video, or an image with the intent or knowledge, or with reckless disregard, that the text, video, or image will hurt, embarrass, or threaten an individual, regardless of whether the individual directed, consented to, or acquiesced in the conduct, or voluntarily accessed the electronic communication.

D.  “Federally protected class” means any group protected from discrimination under federal law.

  1. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin.
  2. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex.
  3. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.
  4. Other areas included under these acts include religion, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

E.  “Harassment” means repeatedly communicating to another individual, in an objectively demeaning or disparaging manner, statements that contribute to a hostile learning or work environment for the individual. This includes rumor spreading and social aggression intended to       demean and disparage another individual and that contributes to a hostile environment for that individual.

F.  “Hazing” means intentionally or knowingly committing an act that:

  1. endangers the physical health or safety of a school employee or student;
    a.  involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;
    b.  involves consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance;
    c.  involves other physical activity that endangers the physical health and safety of a school employee or student; or
    d.  involves physically obstructing a school employee’s or student’s freedom to move; and
  2. is done for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, holding office in, or as a condition for, membership or acceptance, or continued membership or acceptance, in any school or school sponsored team, organization, program, or event; or
  3. if the person committing the act against a school employee or student knew that the school employee or student is a member of, or candidate for, membership with a school, or school sponsored team, organization, program, or event to which the person committing the act belongs to or participates in.
  4. The conduct described in Subsection “F” constitutes hazing, regardless of whether the person against whom the conduct is committed directed, consented to, or acquiesced in, the conduct.
    1.  endangers the physical health or safety of a school employee or student;
    a.  involves any brutality of a physical nature such as whipping, beating, branding, calisthenics, bruising, electric shocking, placing of a harmful substance on the body, or exposure to the elements;
    b.  involves consumption of any food, liquor, drug, or other substance;
    c.  involves other physical activity that endangers the physical health and safety of a school employee or student; or
    d.  involves physically obstructing a school employee’s or student’s freedom to move; and
    2.  is done for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, holding office in, or as a condition for, membership or acceptance, or continued membership or acceptance, in any school or school sponsored team, organization, program, or event; or
    3.  if the person committing the act against a school employee or student knew that the school employee or student is a member of, or candidate for, membership with a school, or school sponsored team, organization, program, or event to which the person committing the act belongs to or participates in.
    4.  The conduct described in Subsection “F” constitutes hazing, regardless of whether the person against whom the conduct is committed directed, consented to, or acquiesced in, the conduct.

G.  “Parent” means a student’s guardian.

H.  “Retaliation” means an act of communication intended:

  1. as retribution against a person for reporting bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or hazing; or
  2. to improperly influence the investigation of, or the response to, a report of bullying or hazing.

I.   “School” means any public elementary or secondary school or charter school.

J.  “School board” means:

  1. a local school board; or
  2. a local charter board.

K.  “School employee” means:

  1. school teachers;
  2. school staff;
  3. school classified employees;
  4. school administrators; and
  5. all others employed, directly or indirectly, by the school, school board, or school district.

L.  “Volunteer” means a person working under direct supervision of a licensed educator.

III.  PROHIBITIONS
A.   No school employee or student may engage in bullying or harassing a school employee or
student:

  1. on school property;
  2. at a school related or sponsored event;
  3. on a school bus;
  4. at a school bus stop; or
  5. while the school employee or student is traveling to or from a location or event described above in Subsection A(1)–(4).

B. No school employee or student may engage in hazing or cyberbullying a school employee or student at any time or in any location.

C.  No school employee or student may engage in retaliation against:

  1. a school employee;
  2. a student; or
  3. an investigator for, or witness of, an alleged incident of bullying, harassing, cyberbullying, hazing, or retaliation.

D.  No school employee or student may make a false allegation of bullying, harassing, cyberbullying, hazing, or retaliation against a school employee or student.

E.  Any bullying, harassing, or hazing that is found to be targeted at a federally protected class is further prohibited under federal anti-discrimination laws and is subject to compliance regulations from the Office for Civil Rights.

IV.  ACTIONS REQUIRED IF PROHITIBED ACTS ARE REPORTED: 
A.   Each reported complaint will include:

  1. name of complaining party;
  2. name of offender (if known);
  3. date and location of incident(s);
  4. a statement describing the incident(s), including names of witnesses (if known).

B.  Each reported violation of the prohibitions noted previously will be promptly investigated by a school administrator or an individual designated by a school administrator. A report of bullying, cyberbullying, hazing, harassment, and retaliation may be made anonymously, but Murray School District will not take formal disciplinary action based solely on an anonymous reports.

C.  Verified violations of the prohibitions noted previously shall result in consequences or penalties. Consequences or penalties may include but are not limited to:

  1. student suspension or removal from a school-sponsored team or activity including school sponsored transportation;
  2.  student suspension or expulsion from school or lesser disciplinary action;
  3.  employee suspension or termination for cause or lesser disciplinary action;
  4.  employee reassignment; or
  5.  other action against student or employee as appropriate.

D.  The school will notify a parent if the parent’s student threatens to commit suicide, or if the student is involved in an incident of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing, or retaliation.

  1. Murray School District or the school in the district will produce and maintain a record that verifies that the parent was notified of the incident or threat.
  2.  Murray School District or the school in the district will not disclose the record described in D1 to anyone unauthorized to receive it and will not use the record for purposes not allowed under the law.

E.  Compliance with the Office for Civil Rights when Civil Rights Violations Occur:

  1. Once any Murray School District school knows or reasonably should know of possible student-on-student bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment or hazing, the school must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred.
  2. If it is determined that the bullying, cyber-bulling, harassment or hazing occurred as a result of the student-victim’s membership in a protected class, the Murray School District school shall take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to:
    a.  end the bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, or hazing
    b.  eliminate any hostile environment, and
    c.  prevent its recurrence.

These duties are the Murray School District school’s responsibilities even if the misconduct also is covered by a separate anti-bullying policy and regardless of whether the student makes a complaint, asks the school to take action, or identifies the bullying, cyberbullying, harassment or hazing as a form of discrimination.

F.  Actions must also include, as appropriate:

  1. procedures for protecting the victim and other involved individuals from being subjected to:
    a.  further bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or hazing, and
    b.  retaliation for reporting the bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or hazing.
  2. prompt reporting to law enforcement of all acts of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing, or retaliation that constitute suspected criminal activity.
  3. prompt reporting to the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of all acts of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing, retaliation that may be violations of student(s)’ or employee(s)’ civil rights.
  4. procedures for a fair and timely opportunity for the accused to explain the accusations and defend his actions prior to student or employee discipline.
  5. procedures for providing due process rights under Section §53A-8-102 (licensed staff) and local employee discipline policies prior to employee discipline or Section §53A-11-903 and local policies (students) prior to long term (more than 10-day) student discipline.

V.  INVESTIGATIONS
Schools in the Murray School District will promptly and reasonably investigate allegations of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment and/or hazing. The school level investigators as designated by the principal will be responsible for handling all complaints by students and employees alleging bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, or hazing as outlined in the Administrative Guidelines.
It is Murray School District’s policy, in compliance with state and federal law, that students have a limited expectation of privacy on the school’s internet system, and routine monitoring or maintenance may lead to discovery that a user has violated district policy or law. Also, individual targeted searches will be conducted if there is reasonable suspicion that a user has violated policy or law. Personal electronic devices of any student suspected of violation of the above policy will be confiscated for investigation and may be turned over to law enforcement.

VI. Training

A. All students, staff, and volunteers at Murray School District will receive annual training from a qualified professional regarding bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, hazing. This training
will address:

  1. overt aggression that may include physical fighting such as punching, shoving, kicking, and verbal threatening behavior, such as name calling, or both physical and verbal aggression or threatening behavior
  2. relational aggression or indirect, covert, or social aggression, including rumor spreading, intimidation, enlisting a friend to assault a child, and social isolation;
  3. bullying, cyberbullying, harassment or hazing of a sexual nature or with sexual overtones;
  4. cyberbullying, including use of email, web pages, text messaging, instant messaging, three-way calling or messaging or any other electronic means for aggression inside or outside of school;
  5. civil-rights violations including training and education specific to bullying based upon
    students’ actual or perceived identities, and conformance or failure to conform to stereotypes. Training on civil rights violations will include compliance when civil rights violations are reported;
  6. awareness and intervention skills such as social skills training.

B. Volunteers are under direct supervision of a licensed educator who is responsible for ensuring the volunteer is trained in the above areas. Volunteers are required to report to their supervising licensed educator if they are notified of a bullying, cyberbullying, hazing, harassment, or  retaliation incident among students or if they reason to suspect such an incident. Volunteers are prohibited from engaging in bullying activities themselves and will be asked to leave Murray School District if in violation of this policy.

C. Pursuant to §53A-15-1301, Murray School District will implement a youth suicide prevention program for students.

D. Pursuant to §53A-1-603, all licensed educators must complete 2 hours of professional development of youth suicide prevention training once every license renewal cycle. To the extent possible, other programs or initiatives designed to provide training and education regarding the prevention of bullying, cyber-bullying, harassment, hazing, and retaliation will be implemented.

E. Pursuant to §53A-13-302, Murray School District will provide training for teachers and administrators regarding required intervention for students who are at-risk of attempting suicide, physical self-harm, or harm to others. At a minimum, all school employees are required to  immediately report to building administration any knowledge of students who are at-risk of attempting suicide, physical self-harm, or harm to others. School employees, agents, or school resources officers may ask the “student at-risk” questions regarding the student’s suicidal thoughts, physical or self-harming behavior prior to referring the student to the appropriate prevention service and prior to informing the student’s parent or legal guardian. LEA staff responsible for suicide prevention programs may also ask a student questions related to youth suicide prevention, intervention and postvention issues.
F. In addition to training for all school employees, students, employees, and volunteer coaches involved in any extra-curricular activity shall:

  1. participate in bullying and hazing prevention training prior to participation in the extra-curricular activity;
  2. repeat bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, and hazing prevention training at least every three years;
  3. be informed annually of the prohibited activities list provided previously in this Policy and the potential consequences for violation of this Policy.

VII. ADDITIONAL NOTES

A. §53A-11a-301 requires that this policy be developed with input from (1) students, (2) parents, (3) teachers, (4) school administrators, (5) school staff, or (6) law enforcement agencies.
B. All information received in a complaint, names of complainants shall be treated with the utmost confidence to the extent possible. Administrators shall notify complainant before revealing his name.
C. A student assessment of the prevalence of bullying in Murray School District or its schools, specifically locations where students are unsafe and additional adult supervision may be required, such as playgrounds, hallways, and lunch areas, will be provided on a bi-annual basis.
D. This policy does not prohibit expressive activity protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, if off-campus speech that may constitute a bullying, cyber-bullying, hazing, or harassment incident creates a substantial disruption to the school environment, under Tinker v. Des Moines, Murray School District or its schools may take disciplinary action against the student who initiated the speech.

Factors that Murray School District or its schools may consider in determining whether a substantial disruption has occurred are:

  1.  whether there is a verbal or physical confrontation over the incident at school;
  2.  whether there is likely to be a verbal or physical confrontation based on evidence of a prior relationship between the victim and the student who initiated the speech;
  3.  whether any part of the speech that gave rise to the incident was repeated at school;
  4.  whether students are discussing the incident during class or if it otherwise is disrupting school work;
  5. whether there is a widespread whispering campaign sparked by the off-campus incident that disrupts the school environment and students’ abilities to focus on school;
  6. whether administrators who dealt with the incident were pulled from their ordinary tasks to address the incident and how much time it took out of an administrators’ day to do so;
  7. whether speech similar to the off-campus speech in this incident has occurred in the past and has resulted in violence or near violence at school;
  8. whether there is a negative effect on classroom activities as a result of the off-campus incident;
  9. whether the speech was violent or whether there is a history of violence from the student(s) who initiated the speech; (Note: true threats are not protected by the First Amendment if it advocates “imminent” violence or unlawful conduct. Thus, a message that threatens physical harm, even if it isn’t meant to be serious, may not be protected by the First Amendment and the person who utters such a message may be disciplined by Murray School District or its schools.)