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Bullying Prevention & Intervention Plan

The Barnstable Public Schools are committed to providing all students with a safe learning environment that is free from bullying and cyber-bullying. The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (“Plan”) is a comprehensive approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying, and the Barnstable Public Schools are committed to working with students, staff, families, law enforcement agencies, and the community to prevent issues of violence.

A complete explanation of the District’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan, including information on how to report bullying, see below.


Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

The Barnstable Public Schools are committed to providing all students with a safe learning environment that is free from bullying and cyber-bullying. The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (“Plan”) is a comprehensive approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying, and the Barnstable Public Schools are committed to working with students, staff, families, law enforcement agencies, and the community to prevent issues of violence. For a complete copy of the plan.

Definitions:

Aggressor is a student or a member of a school staff, including but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessional who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation towards a student.

“Bullying” is the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff, including but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or paraprofessional of written, verbal, or electronic expression (e.g.. Facebook, MySpace, Text Messages, etc.), or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target that: (1) causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property; (2) places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself, or of damage to his or her property; (3) creates a hostile environment at school for the target; (4) infringes on the rights of the target at school; or (5) materially or substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of a school.

Bullying includes cyberbullying. “Cyberbullying” means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall 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; or photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Cyberbullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Cyberbullying shall also include 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.

The Barnstable Public Schools recognizes that students are more vulnerable to bullying based upon actual or perceived differences related to race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socio-economic status, homelessness, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, pregnant or parenting status, sexual orientation, mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability or by associations with other people who may have one or more of these characteristics. Through our school climate and counseling services we support students who may be vulnerable to bullying and/or harassment.

Prohibition of Bullying: Bullying is prohibited on school grounds, property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school related activity, function, or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by a school, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased, or used by a school district; and at a location, activity, function, program that is not school-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device (cyber-bullying) that is not owned, leased, or used by a school, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school or materially and substantially disrupts the education process of the school.

Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying. Retaliation is prohibited. A student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying or retaliation shall be subject to disciplinary action.

Training and Professional Development: School-Based: (1) Annual training for all school staff on the Plan, which includes procedures for reporting and responding to bullying and retaliation; (2) Review with staff the bullying prevention curricula, initiatives, and strategies offered at each grade level within each school; (3) Annual information about bullying prevention shall be provided to substitutes and volunteers.

District-Wide: (1) Annually train new staff on bullying prevention and intervention; (2) Every year staff training on bullying prevention and intervention; Biannually (December and May) Leadership team reviews data on investigations of bullying; (4) Annual training of special education teachers by special education department heads addressing ways to prevent and respond to bullying or retaliation for students with disabilities that must be considered when developing students’ IEPs.

Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Bullying and Retaliation

  1. Reporting bullying or retaliation. Reports of bullying or retaliation may be made by staff, students, parents or guardians, or others, and may be oral or written. Oral reports made by or to a staff member shall be recorded in writing. A school or district staff member is required to report immediately to the principal or designee any instance of bullying or retaliation the staff member becomes aware of or witnesses. Reports made by students, parents or guardians, or other individuals who are not school or district staff members, may be made anonymously. The school or district will make a variety of reporting resources available to the school community including an Incident Reporting Form, and a drop box in each school for anonymous reporting.

Use of an Incident Reporting Form is not required as a condition of making a report. However, the school or district will: 1) include a copy of the Incident Reporting Form in the beginning of the year packets for students and parents or guardians; 2) make it available in the school’s main office, the counseling office, the school nurse's office, and other locations determined by the principal or designee; and 3) post it on the school’s or district’s website. The Incident Reporting Form will be made available in the most prevalent language(s) of origin of students and parents or guardians.

  1. Reporting by Staff: A staff member will report immediately to the principal or designee when he/she witnesses or becomes aware of conduct that may be bullying or retaliation. The requirement to report to the principal or designee does not limit the authority of the staff member to respond to behavioral or disciplinary incidents consistent with school or district policies and procedures for behavior management and discipline.

  2. Reporting by Students, Parents or Guardians, and Others: The school or district expects students, parents or guardians, and others who witness or become aware of an instance of bullying or retaliation involving a student to report it to the principal or designee. Reports may be made anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Students, parents or guardians, and others may request assistance from a staff member to complete a written report
  3. Responding to a report of bullying or retaliation: Before fully investigating the allegations of bullying or retaliation, the principal or designee will take steps to assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Upon determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the principal or designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor of this, and of the procedures for responding to it. There may be circumstances in which the principal or designee contacts parents or guardians prior to any investigation when it is determined that the complaint appears viable. If the reported incident involves students from more than one school district, charter school, non-public school, approved private special education day or residential school, or collaborative school, the principal or designee first informed of the incident will promptly notify by telephone the principal or designee of the other school(s) of the incident so that each school may take appropriate action. At any point after receiving a report of bullying or retaliation, including after an investigation, if the principal or designee has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor, the principal will notify the local law enforcement agency.
  4. Investigation: The principal or designee will investigate promptly all reports of bullying or retaliation and, in doing so, will consider all available information known, including the nature of the allegation(s) and the ages of the students involved.
     
  5. Determinations: The principal or designee will make a determination based upon all of the facts and circumstances. If, after investigation, bullying or retaliation is substantiated, the principal or designee will take steps reasonably calculated to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target is not restricted in participating in school or in benefiting from school activities. The principal or designee will: 1) determine what remedial action is required, if any, and 2) determine what responsive actions and/or disciplinary action is necessary.

The principal or designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor about the results of the investigation and, if bullying or retaliation is found, what action is being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. Because of the legal requirements regarding the confidentiality of student records, the principal or designee cannot report specific information to the target’s parent or guardian about the disciplinary action taken unless it involves a “stay away” order or other directive that the target must be aware of in order to report violations.

  1. Responses to Bullying: The district will respond to bullying by (1) teaching appropriate behavior through skills-building; (2) taking disciplinary action); (3) promoting safety for the target and others; (4) other ( e.g. referral of either the target and/or aggressor for an evaluation under Section 504 or Special Education, conducting a Danger Assessment of the Aggressor)