August 20, 2017

Hazing, Harassment and Bullying of Students


Policy Title:

Policy  on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students

 

Policy ID:

 

                                                                                   

  1. I.                 Purpose of Policy:

The Town of Hartford School District (hereinafter “District”) is committed to providing all of its students with a safe and supportive school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with respect.

The purpose of this policy is to: (1) prohibit conduct or communication that is directed at a person’s protected characteristics as defined below and that has the purpose or effect of substantially disrupting the educational learning process and/or access to educational resources or creates a hostile learning environment; and (2) prohibit conduct intended to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate students in a manner as defined under this policy.

 

  1. II.               Policy Scope: 

This policy applies to all members of the Hartford School District including, but not limited to, students, staff, volunteers, and teachers.

 

  1. III.              Policy Statement:

It is the policy of the District to prohibit: (1) the unlawful harassment of students based on the following protected characteristics: race, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, gender, sexual orientation (including but not limited to LGBTQ), gender identity or disability; and (2) the unlawful hazing and bullying of students.

 

The District shall address all complaints of harassment, hazing and bullying according to the procedures accompanying this policy, and shall take appropriate action against any person - subject to the jurisdiction of the Board - who violates this policy. 

 

Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit disciplinary actions against an individual for conduct which, although it does not rise to the level of harassment, bullying, or hazing as defined herein, otherwise violates one or more of the Board’s disciplinary policies or the school’s code of conduct.

 

  1. IV.             Implementation

The superintendent or his/her designee shall:

 

  1. Adopt a procedure directing staff, parents and guardians how to report violations of this policy and file complaints under this policy.
  2. Annually, select two or more designated employees to receive complaints of hazing, bullying and/or harassment at each school or educational program and publicize their availability in any publication of the District that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school or program.
  3. Designate a District Equity Coordinator to oversee all aspects of the implementation of this policy as it relates to obligations imposed by federal law regarding discrimination. This role may be also be assigned to one or both of the Designated Employees.
  4. Respond to notifications of possible violations of this policy in order to promptly and effectively address all complaints of hazing, harassment, and/or bullying.
  5. Take action on substantiated complaints, documenting same.

In cases where hazing, harassment and/or bullying is substantiated, the District shall take prompt and appropriate remedial action reasonably calculated to stop the hazing, harassment and/or bullying; prevent its recurrence; and to remedy the impact of the offending conduct on the victim(s), where appropriate.

Such action may include a wide range of responses from education to serious discipline. Serious discipline may include termination for employees and, for students, expulsion or removal from school property. It may also involve penalties or sanctions for both organizations and individuals who engage in hazing. Revocation or suspension of an organization’s permission to operate or exist within the District’s purview may also be considered if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes or condones hazing.

  1. V.             Constitutionally Protected Speech

It is the intent of the District to apply and enforce this policy in a manner that is consistent with student rights to free expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

  1. VI.           Definitions

For the purposes of this policy and the accompanying procedures, the following definitions apply:

 

A. “Bullying” means any overt act or combination of acts, including an act conducted by electronic means, directed against a student by another student or group of students and which:

a. Is repeated over time;

b. Is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and

c.            (i) occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school sponsored activity;

or

(ii) does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus or at a school sponsored activity but can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s right to access educational programs.

 

B. “Complaint” means an oral or written report or information provided by a student or any person to an employee alleging that a student has been subjected to conduct that may rise to the level of hazing, harassment or bullying.

 

C. “Complainant” means a student or any person who has made a complaint.

 

D. “Designated employee” means an employee who has been assigned by the school to receive complaints pursuant to subdivision 16 V.S.A. 570a(a)(7). The Designated Employees for each school building are identified in Appendix A of this policy.

 

E.  The term "disability" means, with respect to an individual:

  • a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities of such individual;
  • a record of such an impairment; or
  • being regarded as having such an impairment.

 

F. “Employee” includes any person employed directly by or retained through a contract with the District, an agent of the school, a school board member, a student teacher, an intern or a school volunteer. For purposes of this policy, “agent of the school” includes supervisory union staff.

 

G. “Equity Coordinator” is the person responsible for implementation of Title IX (regarding sex-based discrimination) and Title VI (regarding race-based discrimination) for the District and for coordinating the District’s compliance with Title IX and Title VI in all areas covered by the implementing regulations. The Equity Coordinator is also responsible for overseeing implementation of the District’s Preventing and Responding to Harassment of Students and Harassment of Employees policies. This role may also be assigned to Designated Employees. The Equity Coordinator for the District is identified in Appendix A of this policy.

 

H. “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity, that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating hostile, or offensive environment. Harassment includes conduct as defined above and may also constitute one or more of the following:

(1) Sexual harassment, which means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, that includes sexual violence/sexual assault, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and includes situations when one or both of the following occur:

(i) Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student’s education (including any school-sponsored activities), academic status, or progress; or

(ii) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as a component of the basis for decisions affecting that student. Sexual harassment may also include student-on-student conduct or conduct of a non-employee third party that creates a hostile environment.

 

A hostile environment exists where the harassing conduct is severe, persistent or pervasive so as to deny or limit the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program on the basis of sex.

 

(2) Racial harassment, which means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race or color, and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, racial slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, and taunts or manner of speech and negative references to cultural customs.

 

(3) Harassment of members with other protected characteristics, means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived religion, creed, national origin, marital status, disability, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, taunts on manner of speech, and negative references to customs related to any of these protected characteristics.

 

I. “Hazing” means any intentional, knowing or reckless act committed individually or in concert with others, against a student: In connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with the educational institution; and

 

(1)    Which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, endangering the mental or physical health of the student.

 

Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular or extra-curricular training program goals, provided that:

(1) The goals are approved by the educational institution; and

(2) The activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

                         With respect to Hazing, “Student” means any person who: (A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational program; (B) has been accepted for admission at the educational program where the hazing incident occurs; (C) intends to attend an educational program during any of its regular sessions after an official academic break; or (D) a minor participating in a school-affiliated activity.

 

                         J. LGBTQ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (and/or questioning) individuals/identities

 

                         K. “Notice” means any written complaint (including electronic communications) or oral information which has been provided to a designated employee by any individual who has reasonable cause to believe that hazing, harassment or bullying may have occurred. In addition, for purposes of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws, notice may occur when an employee of the district, including any individual who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibility, knows or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known about potential unlawful hazing, harassment or bullying.

 

                         L. “Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or other similar group, whose members primarily are students at an educational institution, and which is affiliated with the educational institution.

 

                         M. “Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.

 

                         N. “Retaliation” is any adverse action by any person against a person who has filed a complaint of harassment, hazing or bullying or against a person who assists or participates in an investigation, proceeding or hearing related to the harassment complaint. Such adverse action may include conduct by a school employee directed at a student in the form of intimidation or reprisal such as diminishment of grades, suspension, expulsion, change in educational conditions, loss of privileges or benefits, or other unwarranted disciplinary action. Retaliation may also include conduct by a student directed at another student in the form of further harassment, intimidation, and reprisal.

 

                         O. “School administrator” means a superintendent, principal, program director, technical center director, or his/her designee, assistant superintendent, assistant principal, assistant program director, technical center director, or his/her designee, and/or the District’s Equity Coordinator.

 

 

 APPENDIX A

 

                         Designated Employees: The following employees of the _______________________ School have been designated by the District to receive complaints of bullying and/or harassment pursuant to this policy and 16 V.S.A. § 570a(a)(7) and 16 V.S.A. §570c(7) and under federal anti-discrimination laws.

 

 

Name: _______________________________________________________

Title:  ________________________________________________________

Contact Information: ____________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

 

Name: _______________________________________________________

Title:  ________________________________________________________

Contact Information: ____________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

Legal Reference(s):         

Title V, Section B, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. §794 et seq.; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. §2000d;

Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.; Family Education Rights Privacy Act; 20 U.S.C. §1232g;

Public Accommodations Act, 9 V.S.A. §§4500 et seq.;

Education, Classifications and Definitions, 16 V.S.A. §11(26);(30)(A);(32); Education, 16 V.S.A. §140(a)(1); Education, 16 V.S.A. §166(e);

Education, Bullying, 16 V.S.A. §570c;

Education, Harassment, Hazing and Bullying, 16 V.S.A. § 570; Education, Harassment, 16 V.S.A. §570a;

Education, Harassment, 16 V.S.A. §570c; Education, Harassment, 16 V.S.A. §570f; Education, Hazing, 16 V.S.A. §570b; Education, Hazing, 16 V.S.A. §570f Education, Discipline, 16 V.S.A. §1161a;

Education, Suspension or Expulsion of Pupils; 16 V.S.A. §1162; Child Abuse, 33 V.S.A. §§4911 et seq.;

Adult Protective Services, 33 V.S.A. §6901 et seq., all as they may be amended from time to time.

Washington v. Pierce, 179 VT 318 (2005).

Responsible Owner:

Hartford School District

Contact(s): email

T.DeBalsi

Approved By:

HSD Board

Revision History:

 

Approval History:

 

 

 

Current Approval Date:

 3-23-2016

 

 

Related Polices & Procedures:

Procedures on the Prevention of hazing, Harassment and Bullying

 

 

Related Job Aids: