ASP Discusses Law on Bullying

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October is National Bullying Prevention Month! That means we will look at the law on bullying. Surprised there is one? The most important words in the law below are: EVERY student in the state has the right to receive an education free from intimidation, harassment or threats. Kids learn from adults’ actions – (That’s you!)

By treating others with kindness and respect, you show the kids in your life that there is no place for bullying. Even if it seems like they are not paying attention, your kids are watching how you manage stress and conflict, as well as how you treat your friends, colleagues, and families. Do your part to STOP the bullying.

Antibullying policies(a) The General Assembly finds that every public school student in this state has the right to receive his or her public education in a public school educational environment that is reasonably free from substantial intimidation, harassment, or harm or threat of harm by another student.(b) As used in this section:(1) “Attribute” means an actual or perceived personal characteristic including without limitation race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, socioeconomic status, academic status, disability, gender, gender identity, physical appearance, health condition, or sexual orientation;(2) “Bullying” means the intentional harassment, intimidation, humiliation, ridicule, defamation, or threat or incitement of violence by a student against another student or public school employee by a written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that may address an attribute of the other student, public school employee, or person with whom the other student or public school employee is associated and that causes or creates actual or reasonably foreseeable:(A) Physical harm to a public school employee or student or damage to the public school employee’s or student’s property;(B) Substantial interference with a student’s education or with a public school employee’s role in education;(C) A hostile educational environment for one (1) or more students or public school employees due to the severity, persistence, or pervasiveness of the act; or(D) Substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or educational environment;(3) “Electronic act” means without limitation a communication or image transmitted by means of an electronic device, including without limitation a telephone, wireless phone or other wireless communications device, computer, or pager;(4) “Harassment” means a pattern of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct relating to another person’s constitutionally or statutorily protected status that causes, or reasonably should be expected to cause, substantial interference with the other’s performance in the school environment; and(5) “Substantial disruption” means without limitation that any one (1) or more of the following occur as a result of the bullying:(A) Necessary cessation of instruction or educational activities;(B) Inability of students or educational staff to focus on learning or function as an educational unit because of a hostile environment;(C) Severe or repetitive disciplinary measures are needed in the classroom or during educational activities; or(D) Exhibition of other behaviors by students or educational staff that substantially interfere with the learning environment.(c) Bullying of a public school student or a public school employee is prohibited.(d) A school principal or his or her designee who receives a credible report or complaint of bullying shall promptly investigate the complaint or report and make a record of the investigation and any action taken as a result of the investigation.(e)(1) The board of directors of every school district shall adopt policies to prevent bullying.(2) The policies shall:(A)(i) Clearly define conduct that constitutes bullying.(ii) The definition shall include without limitation the definition contained in subsection (b) of this section;(B) Prohibit bullying:(i) While in school, on school equipment or property, in school vehicles, on school buses, at designated school bus stops, at school-sponsored activities, at school-sanctioned events; or(ii)(a) By an electronic act that results in the substantial disruption of the orderly operation of the school or educational environment.(b) This section shall apply to an electronic act whether or not the electronic act originated on school property or with school equipment, if the electronic act is directed specifically at students or school personnel and maliciously intended for the purpose of disrupting school and has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose;(C) State the consequences for engaging in the prohibited conduct, which may vary depending on the age or grade of the student involved;(D) Require that a school employee who has witnessed or has reliable information that a pupil has been a victim of bullying as defined by the district shall report the incident to the principal;(E) Require that the person or persons who file a complaint will not be subject to retaliation or reprisal in any form;(F) Require that notice of what constitutes bullying, that bullying is prohibited, and that the consequences of engaging in bullying be conspicuously posted in every classroom, cafeteria, restroom, gymnasium, auditorium, and school bus in the district; and(G) Require that copies of the notice of what constitutes bullying, that bullying is prohibited, and that the consequences of engaging in bullying be provided to parents, students, school volunteers, and employees. Each policy shall require that a full copy of the policy be made available upon request.(f) A school district shall provide training on compliance with the antibullying policies to all public school district employees responsible for reporting or investigating bullying under this section.(g) A school employee who has reported violations under the school district’s policy shall be immune from any tort liability that may arise from the failure to remedy the reported incident.(h) The board of directors of a school district may provide opportunities for school employees to participate in programs or other activities designed to develop the knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to acts covered by this policy.(i) The school district shall provide the Department of Education with the website address at which a copy of the policies adopted in compliance with this section may be found.

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Tammy Teague

Tammy Teague

Education: 1995 MHS graduate; 1999 Arkansas Tech University Graduate - BA in Journalism. Career: Managing Editor - The Citizen; Copy Writer - Southwest Times Record; Editor - Resident Press. 20+ years experience in the news.

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