District Bullying/Harassment Policy - Section 7.25 of B.O.E Policy Book

  •  7.25 DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION

    The school district is committed to providing all students and employees with a safe and respectful school environment. Both state and federal law specifically prohibit harassment of or by employees and students in connection with the district.

    The district prohibits discrimination, harassment or retaliation based on real or perceived race, color, sex, pregnancy, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, age, or genetic information. This prohibition applies to students, employees and board members in any aspect of the district’s programs, including during school hours, extracurricular activities, school sponsored events, or outside of school hours if the conduct affects the education or working environment.

    Definitions:

    “Employee” for purposes of this policy, includes all district employees, board members and volunteers.
    “Student” refers to any person who is enrolled in any district school or program.
    “Harassment” means repetitive, unwelcome conduct which is based on a person’s real or perceived race, color, sex, pregnancy, gender, gender identity or expression, national origin, religion, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, age, or genetic information.

    Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to: slurs, epithets, insults, jokes or derogatory comments; verbal or physical abuse; intimidation (physical, verbal or psychological); impeding or blocking a person’s movement; unwelcome touching, crude jokes or pictures, discussions of sexual experiences, teasing related to sexual characteristics, pressure for sexual activity whether written, verbal or through physical gestures, display or sending of pornographic pictures or objects, obscene graffiti, and spreading rumors related to a person’s alleged sexual activities. Demeaning comments about a student’s ability to excel in a class historically considered a “boy’s” or a “girl’s” subject may also constitute harassment.

    “Sexual harassment” is a type of harassment which includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature which:
     is made an explicit or implicit term or condition of an employee’s employment or a student’s ability to obtain an education; or
     is used as a basis for decisions impacting either an employee’s employment or a student’s education; or 
     has the purpose or effect of unreasonably or substantially interfering with an employee’s work performance or a student’s educational performance, or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    In order to constitute sexual harassment, the conduct at issue must be unwelcome. Sexual conduct between minor students and employees will always be considered unwelcome. Sexual harassment also includes conduct such as rape, sexual assault, stalking, and any other form of sexual violence.
    Sexual harassment may occur between persons of the same gender or sex.

    Nothing in this policy precludes legitimate, nonsexual physical contact to avoid physical harm to persons or property.

    “Retaliation” is any negative conduct which is a taken in response to an individual’s complaint of harassment or discrimination, or participation in any investigation of a harassment or discrimination complaint.

    Reporting:

    Students who have been harassed or discriminated against, or who witness such conduct, are encouraged to report the offensive conduct to any teacher, counselor, administrator, or board member.

    Employees who witness, suspect or receive a report of harassment or discrimination must immediately report the incident to the superintendent or a board member – even if that report must be made after hours to the superintendent or board members home or cell phone.

    Any employee who receives a harassment, discrimination or retaliation report will immediately refer the matter to the superintendent or the Title IX coordinator, unless the superintendent or Title IX coordinator is the alleged malfeasant. In such circumstances, the complaint will be referred to the board president or the district’s legal counsel. To ensure impartiality, no person who is the subject of a complaint shall conduct any investigation into the improper conduct.

    If possible, reports should be made in person and/or in writing, and be signed by the reporting party. However, in order to encourage full, complete and immediate reporting, any person may report such incidents anonymously in writing by mailing the report to the personal attention of either the superintendent or a board member. All reports should state:
     the name of the alleged harasser;
     the person(s) being harassed;
     the nature, context and extent of the prohibited activity;
     the dates of the prohibited activity, and;
     any other information necessary to a full report and investigation of the matter.

    Any employee who is subjected to job related sexual harassment is entitled to protection under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Oklahoma Anti-Discrimination Act. Individuals may simultaneously report an allegation of this type of misconduct to school officials and to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission, or local law enforcement.

    Administrative Response:

    The district will promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigate all reports of harassment and discrimination. This process will include:
     A statement from the individual who was allegedly harassed;
     Appropriate and reasonable steps to separate and protect the alleged victim pending conclusion of the investigation and necessary remedial action;
     Reasonable updates to the alleged victim of the investigation’s progress, subject to federal and state laws and regulations;
     Interviews with the alleged harasser, alleged victim and witnesses; and
     Review of relevant documents, including district files and records.

    The district will review all relevant facts and take into account the totality of the circumstances - including the nature, extent, context and gravity of the activities. At the conclusion of this process, the superintendent, in conjunction with the Title IX coordinator, will issue findings based on the preponderance of the evidence and take appropriate measures, including but not limited to: education, information on available outside resources, training and counseling, transfer, suspension, and any other appropriate remedy under the circumstances. Employees may also be terminated for engaging in harassment, discrimination or retaliation.

    Confidentiality shall be maintained during and after the investigation to the extent reasonably possible. However, public disclosure of personal or confidential employee information may be made during the course of any suspension, dismissal, non-renewal hearing or resulting litigation.

     Penalties:

    Penalties shall be imposed based on the facts taken as a whole and the totality of the circumstances such as the nature, extent, context and gravity of such activities or incidents.
    Any employee or student engaging in harassment, discrimination or retaliation will be subject to any and all disciplinary action allowed by school policy and Oklahoma law.
    ADOPTED: September 19, 2005
    REVISED: October 10, 2011; December 10, 2012; September 14, 2015

State of Oklahoma Bullying Policy

  • The Bullying Coordinator is Bret Smith, Executive Director of Operations, located at 613 East Grand Avenue, phone number is 580-718-3807.

    7.16 – 1.2 POLICY PROHIBITING STUDENT BULLYING 

     Statement of Legislative Mandate and Purpose

     This policy is a result of the legislative mandate and public policy embodied in the School Safety and Bullying Prevention Act, 70 OKLA. STAT. § 24-100.2 et seq. (“Act”).  The district intends to comply with the mandates of the Act and expects students to refrain from bullying.  Bullying is expressly forbidden and students who bully are subject to disciplinary consequences as outlined in the district’s policy on student behavior.  Bullies may also be provided with assistance to end their unacceptable behavior, and targets of bullies may be provided with assistance to overcome the negative effects of bullying.

    Definition of Terms

     A.  Statutory definition of terms:

    “Bully” means any pattern of harassment, intimidation, threatening behavior, physical acts, verbal or electronic communication directed toward a student or group of students that results in or is reasonably perceived as being done with the intent to cause negative educational or physical results for the targeted individual or group and is communicated in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school’s educational mission or the education of any student. 

     “Threatening behavior” means any pattern of behavior or isolated action, whether or not it is directed at another person, that a reasonable person would believe indicates potential for future harm to students, school personnel, or school property.

     “Electronic communication” means the communication of any written, verbal, pictorial information or video content by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a mobile or cellular telephone or other wireless telecommunication device, or a computer.  

     Note: Bullying by electronic communication is prohibited whether or not such communication originated at school, or with school equipment, if the communication is specifically directed at students or school personnel and concerns bullying at school.

     “At school” means on school grounds, in school vehicles, at school-sponsored activities, or at school-sanctioned events.

     B.  The “Reasonable Person” Standard

     In determining what a “reasonable person” should recognize as bullying, staff will consider the point of view of the intended target, including any characteristics unique to the intended target.  Staff may also consider the discipline history and physical characteristics of the alleged bully.  

     C.  Types of Bullying

     “Physical Bullying” includes harm or threatened harm to another’s body or property, including but not limited to threats, tripping, hitting, pushing, pinching, pulling hair, kicking, biting, starting fights, daring others to fight, stealing or destroying property, extortion, assaults with a weapon, other violent acts, and homicide.

     “Emotional Bullying” includes the intentional infliction of harm to another’s self-esteem, including but not limited to insulting or profane remarks or gestures, or harassing and frightening statements.

     “Social Bullying” includes harm to another’s group acceptance, including but not limited to gossiping; spreading negative rumors to cause a targeted person to be socially excluded, ridiculed, or otherwise lose status; acts designed to publicly embarrass a targeted person, damage the target’s current relationships, or deprive the target of self-confidence or the respect of peers.

     “Sexual Bullying” includes harm of a sexual nature, including but not limited to making unwelcome sexual comments or gestures to or about the targeted person; creating or distributing vulgar, profane or lewd words or images about the target; committing a sexual act at school, including touching private parts of the target’s body; engaging in off-campus dating violence that adversely affects the target’s education opportunities; making threatening sexual statements directed at or about the target; or gossiping about the target’s sexuality or sex life.  Such conduct may also constitute sexual harassment which is prohibited by the district.

     Understanding and Preventing Bullying 

     A.  Student and Staff Education and Training

     A full copy of this policy will be posted on the district’s website and included in all district handbooks.  Parents, guardians, community members, and volunteers will be notified of the availability of this policy through the district’s annual written notice of the availability of the district’s anti-bullying policy.  Written notice of the policy will also be posted at various places in all district school sites.

     Students and staff will be periodically reminded throughout the year of the availability of this policy, the district’s commitment to preventing bullying, and help available for those affected by bullying.  Anti-bullying programs will be incorporated into the district’s other violence prevention efforts.

     All staff will receive annual training regarding preventing, identifying, reporting, and managing bullying.  The district’s bullying coordinator and individuals designated as school site investigators will receive additional training regarding appropriate consequences and remedial action for bullies, helping targets of bullies, and the district’s strategy for counseling and referral for those affected by bullying.

     Students will receive annual education regarding behavioral expectations, understanding bullying and its negative effects, disciplinary consequences for infractions, reporting methods, and consequences for those who knowingly make false reports.  Parents and guardians may participate in a parent education component.

     B.  Safe School Committees

     Each Safe School Committee has the responsibility of studying and making recommendations regarding unsafe conditions, strategies for students to avoid harm at school, student victimization, crime prevention, school violence, and other issues which interfere with and adversely affect school safety. With respect to student bullying, each Committee shall assist the board in promoting a positive school climate.  The Committee will study the district’s policy and currently accepted bullying prevention programs (available on the state department website) to make recommendations regarding bullying.  These recommendations must be submitted to the principal and cover: (i) needed staff development, including how to recognize and avoid bullying;  (ii) increasing student and community involvement in addressing bullying, (iii) improving individual student-staff communication, (iv) implementing problem solving teams which include counselors and/or school psychologists, and (v) utilizing behavioral health resources.  

     Student Reporting

     Students are encouraged to inform school personnel if they are the target of or a witness to bullying.  To make a report, students should notify a teacher, counselor, or principal.  The employee will give the student an official report form, and will help the student complete the form, if needed.  

     Students may make an anonymous report of bullying, and such report will be investigated as thoroughly as possible.  However, it is often difficult to fully investigate claims which are made anonymously and disciplinary action cannot be taken against a bully solely on the basis of an anonymous report. 

     Staff Reporting

     Staff members will encourage students to report bullying.  All employees are required to report acts of bullying to the school principal on an official report form.  Any staff member who witnesses, hears about, or suspects bullying is required to submit a report.

     Bullying Investigators

     Each school site will have a designated individual and an alternate to investigate bullying reports.  These individuals will be identified in the site’s student and staff handbooks, on the district’s website, and in the bullying prevention education provided annually to students and staff.  The district’s anti-bullying program is coordinated at the district level by its bullying coordinator, Bret Smith, Executive Director of Operations. 

     Investigating Bullying Reports

     For any alleged incidents of bullying reported to school officials, the designated school official will investigate the alleged incident(s) and determine (i) whether bullying occurred, (ii) the severity of the incident(s),  (iii) the potential for future violence, and (iv) the reason for the actual or perceived bullying.  

     In conducting an investigation, the designated official shall interview relevant students and staff and review any documentation of the alleged incident(s).  School officials may also work with outside professionals, such as local law enforcement, as deemed appropriate by the investigating official.  In the event the investigator believes a criminal act may have been committed or there is a likelihood of violence, the investigator will immediately call local law enforcement and the superintendent.  

     At the conclusion of the investigation, the designated employee will document the steps taken to review the matter, the conclusions reached and any additional action taken, if applicable.  Further, the investigator will notify the district’s bullying coordinator that an investigation has occurred and the results of the investigation. In the event the investigation reveals that bullying occurred, the district’s bullying coordinator will refer the student who committed the act of bullying to a delinquency prevention and diversion program through the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

     Upon completion of an investigation, the school may recommend that available community mental health care or substance abuse options be provided to a student, if appropriate.  The school may provide a student with information about the types of support services available to the student bully, target, and any other students affected by the prohibited behavior.  These resources will be provided to any individual who requests such assistance or will be provided if a school official believes the resource might be of assistance to the student/family.  The district is not responsible for paying for these services.  No school employee is expected to evaluate the appropriateness or the quality of the resource provided, nor is any employee required to provide an exhaustive list of resources available.  All school employees will act in good faith.

     The school may request the disclosure of information concerning students who have received substance abuse or mental health care (pursuant to the previous paragraph) if that information indicates an explicit threat to the safety of students or school personnel, provided the disclosure of the information does not violate the requirements and provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, OKLA. STAT. tit. 12 § 1376, OKLA. STAT. tit. 59 §1376 of the Oklahoma Statues, or any other state or federal laws regarding the disclosure of confidential information.  The school may request the disclosure of information when it is believed that the student may have posed a danger to him/herself and having such information will allow school officials to determine if it is safe for the student to return to the regular classroom or if alternative education arrangements are needed.

     Parental Notification

     The assigned investigator will notify the parents of a target within one (1) school day that a bullying report has been received.  Within one (1) school day of the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will provide the parents of a target with the results of the investigation and any community resources deemed appropriate to the situation.  

     If the report of bullying is substantiated, within one (1) school day of the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator will contact the parents of the bully to discuss disciplinary action and any community resources deemed appropriate to the situation.  

     The timelines in this parental notification section may be reasonably extended if individual circumstances warrant such an extension.  

     Parental Responsibilities

     All parents/guardians will be informed in writing of the district’s program to stop bullying and will be given a copy of this policy upon requestAn administrative response to a reported act of bullying may involve certain actions to be taken by parents.  Parents will be informed of the program and the means for students to report bullying acts toward them or other students.   They will also be told that to help prevent bullying at school they should encourage their children to: 

     ▪ Report bullying when it occurs;

    ▪ Take advantage of opportunities to talk to their children about bullying;

    ▪ Inform the school immediately if they think their child is being bullied or is bullying other students; 

    ▪ Watch for symptoms that their child may be a target of bullying and report those symptoms; and

    ▪ Cooperate fully with school personnel in identifying and resolving incidents.

     Student Transfers

    Students who are victims of bullying, and who report the incident(s) to school administrators, may choose to transfer to another school district.  Any application for transfer must be made in accordance with the receiving school district’s transfer policy.

     Monitoring and Compliance

     

    In order to assist the State Department of Education with compliance efforts pursuant to the School Safety and Bullying Prevention Act, 70 OKLA. STAT. § 24-100.2 et seq., the district will identify a Bullying Coordinator who will serve as the district contact responsible for providing information to the State Board of Education. The Bullying Coordinator shall maintain updated contact information on file with the State Department of Education and the school district will notify the State Department of Education within fifteen (15) days of the appointment of a new Bullying Coordinator.

     A copy of this policy will be submitted to the State Department of Education by December 10th of each school year as part of the school district’s Annual Performance Report.

     ADOPTED: October 13, 2008

    REVISED: December 10, 2012; September 9, 2013; October 13, 2014; September 14, 2015