School staff includes but is not limited to: an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, paraprofessional, clerical and technology staff.
"Cyber-bullying" 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:
- electromagnetic, photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages, facsimile communications, cell phone or texting.
Cyber-bullying 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.
Cyber-bullying 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.
Bullying and cyber-bullying can occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of a home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the full cooperation and assistance of parents or guardians and their families are expected.
For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used, it is to denote either bullying, or cyber-bullying.
Bullying is prohibited:
- on school grounds;
- on property immediately adjacent to school grounds;
- at school-sponsored or school-related activities, functions or programs, whether on or offschool grounds;
- at school bus stops;
- on school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by the school district; or,
- through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the LPS.
Bullying and cyber-bullying are prohibited at a location, activity, function or program that is not schoolrelated or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the LPS if the act or acts in question:
- create a hostile learning and/or social environment at school for the target;
- infringe on the rights of the target at school; and/or
- materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Prevention and Intervention Plan
The Superintendent or designee shall oversee the development of a prevention and intervention plan, in consultation with all district stakeholders, which may include parents and guardians, teachers, school staff, professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies, and students, consistent with the requirements of this policy, as well as state and federal laws. The bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be reviewed and updated at least biennially.
The Principal or designee is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Plan except when a reported bullying incident involves the principal or the assistant principal as the alleged aggressor. In such cases, the Superintendent or designee shall be responsible for investigating the report and other steps necessary to implement the Plan, including addressing the safety of the alleged victim. If the Superintendent is the alleged aggressor, the School Committee or its designee shall be responsible for investigating the report and taking other steps necessary to implement the Plan, including addressing the safety of the alleged victim.
Students who believe that they are targets of bullying are encouraged and urged to report the matter to a member of the school staff. Students who observe an act of bullying, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are obligated to report incidents to a member of the school staff, and may be subject to discipline for failing to report such incidents. However, the target shall not be subject to discipline for failing to report bullying.
A school or district staff member shall immediately report any instance of suspected bullying or retaliation the staff member has witnessed or become aware of to the school Principal or designee. This includes bullying or retaliation of a student by another student or bullying or retaliation of a student by a staff member. If the Principal is the alleged aggressor, the report shall be made to the Superintendent or designee. If the Superintendent is the alleged aggressor, the report shall be made to the School Committee or designee. If the staff member fails to report, he or she may be subject to disciplinary action.
Parents or guardians, or members of the community, are encouraged to report an incident of suspected bullying as soon as possible to the school Principal or designee. This includes bullying of a student by another student or by a staff member. If the Principal is the alleged aggressor, the report shall be made to the Superintendent or designee. If the Superintendent is the alleged aggressor, the report shall be made to the School Committee or designee.
Each school shall have a means for anonymous reporting by students of incidents of suspected bullying.
No formal disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
Any student who is found to have knowingly made a false accusation/report of bullying may be subject to disciplinary action.
A school Principal or designee shall promptly investigate any report of bullying, using a Bullying/Cyber-bullying Report Form. It may include, but is not limited to, interviewing the alleged target, alleged aggressor, staff members, students and/or witnesses. The Principal or designee (or whoever is conducting the investigation) shall remind the alleged student aggressor, target, and witnesses of the importance of the investigation, their obligation to be truthful and that retaliation against someone who reports bullying or provides information during a bullying investigation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action.
A Principal or designee, upon determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, shall promptly contact the parents or guardians of the alleged target(s) and when the alleged aggressor(s) is a student, parents or guardians of the alleged aggressor(s). Actions being taken to prevent further acts of bullying shall be discussed.
The investigation shall be completed within a reasonable amount of time. The parents or guardians of both the student aggressor(s) and the target(s) shall be notified if there has been a finding that bullying has occurred. They will be updated periodically during the investigation, and, upon its completion, shall be informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, whether disciplinary action has of shall be taken, and whether or what steps
will be taken to prevent retaliation or further acts of bullying.
If the alleged aggressor is a staff member, notice will be made to that individual in accordance with district policies and procedures, including in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining agreements. The individual will be updated periodically during the investigations and, upon its completion, shall be informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, whether disciplinary action has or shall betoken, and whether or what steps will be taken to prevent retaliation or further acts of bullying.
A Principal or designee shall assess an alleged target's needs for protection and create and implement a safety plan that shall restore a sense of safety for that student.
Confidentiality shall be maintained to protect all parties, which includes, but is not limited to, alleged aggressor(s) or target(s), a person who reports bullying, or provides information during an investigation of bullying, or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying.
If a school principal or designee determines that bullying has occurred, he/she shall take appropriate disciplinary action, and if it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor, the Principal' shall notify the appropriate local law, enforcement agency and notify the Superintendent.
Disciplinary actions for students who are found to have committed an act of bullying or retaliation shall be in accordance with LPS disciplinary policies.
Disciplinary actions for employees who are found to have committed an act of bullying or retaliation shall be in accordance with state law, any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreements, and Lexington Public School's policies and procedures.
The LPS may provide appropriate counseling or referral to appropriate services, including, but not limited to, guidance, academic intervention, and protection to any affected students, as necessary.
Each school shall document any incident of bullying that is reported per this policy, and the Principal or a designee shall maintain a file of these reports.
The Superintendent or designee shall inform the School Committee periodically of any trends or implications of these reports in order to give the School Committee the opportunity to review and amend this policy.
Confidentiality shall be maintained consistent with the school's obligations under law.
Reprisal or retaliation against any person associated with a report of bullying or the investigation thereof is prohibited. Disciplinary action for a person who is found to have engaged in reprisal or retaliation will reflect the extreme seriousness of such an act.
Disciplinary action of an alleged student aggressor may include, but is not limited to, suspension or expulsion. If the Principal or designee decides that disciplinary action is appropriate for a staff member, the disciplinary action is determined on the basis of facts found by the Principal or designee and appropriate expectations in light of the staff member's role and responsibilities.
Training and Assessment
The Superintendent or designee shall provide training annually for all staff, including but not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, paraprofessionals, clerical and technology staff so as to improve preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying. The faculty and staff at each school shall be trained annually on the bullying prevention and intervention plan applicable to the school.
Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention shall be incorporated into the curriculum for all K to 12 students.
Publication and Notice
Annual written notice of the relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided in each school handbook to students and their parents or guardians, in age-appropriate terms.
The Superintendent or designee shall provide written notice annually of the bullying prevention and intervention plan to all school staff.
Relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan relating to the duties faculty and staff and bullying of students by school staff shall be included in faculty handbooks. The bullying prevention and intervention plan and policy shall be posted on the LPS website.