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12/19/2014 1 Ask Matt - January 2012 - Bullying and Harassment Matt Carver, J.D., Director of Legal Services tel - 515.267.1115 fax - 515.267.1066.

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Presentation on theme: "12/19/2014 1 Ask Matt - January 2012 - Bullying and Harassment Matt Carver, J.D., Director of Legal Services tel - 515.267.1115 fax - 515.267.1066."— Presentation transcript:

1 12/19/ Ask Matt - January Bullying and Harassment Matt Carver, J.D., Director of Legal Services tel fax

2 2 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Iowa Code § , harassment or bullying in Iowa schools covers actual or perceived “[t]rait[s] or characteristic[s] of the student” includ[ing] but... not limited to age, color, creed, national origin, race, religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political party preference, political belief, socioeconomic status, or familial status. Iowa’s law pretty much covers everything. YOUR DISTRICT MUST HAVE AN ANTI-BULLYING POLICY BASED OFF OF IOWA CODE §

3 3 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Iowa Code § (2)(b) b. 'Harassment' and 'bullying' shall be construed to mean any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment that meets one or more of the following conditions: (1) Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or property.  Note that this includes property – For instance, threats may be made that others are gong to slash the tires on a student’s car or vandalize the student’s home.

4 4 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Iowa Code § (2)(b)... (2) Has a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health.  For example, loss of weight, depression, anxiety, etc. (3) Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's academic performance.  For example, a drop in a student’s grades, or ability to complete assignments. (4) Has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.  Student quits team, refuses to sign-up for class or extracurricular activity, or starts having attendance problems.

5 5 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Hazing is a crime in Iowa. Iowa Code section defines hazing as acts that endanger the physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into, or affiliation with, any organization operating in connection with a school, college, or university. The definition specifically states that hazing is a crime, “regardless of a student's willingness to participate in the activity.” Due to the requirement that the act endangers the physical health or safety of a student, there may be some behavior which is inappropriate, and may sound like a lay person’s definition of “hazing”, but such behavior may not meet the statutory requirement for criminal prosecution.

6 6 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Common school district mistakes in the area of harassment and bullying include:  (1) Failing to conduct regular training with students and staff;  (2) Failing to educate students, parents, and staff about the practical steps involved in filing a bullying complaint;  (3) Failing to report founded and unfounded bullying complaints with the Iowa Department of Education;  (4) Being unresponsive or under-responsive when alleged harassment or bullying occurs;

7 7 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Common school district mistakes in the area of harassment and bullying include: (cont.)  (5) Requiring the target to change classes;  (6) Relying solely on discipline to address the situation. This often does little to fix underlying systemic problems;  (7) Requiring a student to confront his/her harasser. This should only be done if the parties agree to such an informal approach on a strictly voluntary basis;  (8) Failing to notify parents about the alleged bullying or, alternatively, providing too much information to parents about discipline given to the perpetrator.

8 8 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (1) Remember that the law protects students if the harassment occurs on school property or at a school activity, REGARDLESS OF THE TIME.  (2) Even if the harassment occurred at a location or event that is outside of school jurisdiction, still have a conversation with the students and involve parents/guardians.  (3) Not every isolated incident of name-calling equates to a violation of your school’s bullying policy and/or federal law. Determine whether one of the conditions under your policy has been met.  (4) Err on the side of protecting the target, while still providing the alleged harasser his/her due process rights.

9 9 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (5) If the bullying occurs online, consider contacting the applicable social networking site or other website used to perpetrate the bullying.  (6) Educate students about online bullying and why they might want to stay clear of pages or discussions where bullying often occurs. Students should consider defriending certain peers on Facebook. Also, educate parents about the problem of online bullying and ask them to consider how early their child needs a social networking page.

10 10 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (7) I encourage you to have anti-bullying and anti-harassment training for students and staff at least once per year. You may decide that this is best accomplished with students in a smaller, classroom setting. Even an hour of training is better than nothing, so staff and students know how to report bullying and where to go to get help. MAKE SURE THAT ALL STUDENTS, PARENTS, AND STAFF MEMBERS KNOW THE PRACTICAL STEPS TAKEN TO FILE A BULLYING COMPLAINT.  (8) Consider adding citizenship expectations to your Good Conduct Policy, to help prevent inappropriate postings online. This may provide you with the basis to discipline a student under your Good Conduct Policy, even if the behavior does not rise to the level of violating your Anti-bullying policy.

11 11 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (9) Remember to annually file bullying numbers to the DE, both founded and unfounded cases.  (10) This is one of the most common areas where parents of the target want to know what you did to discipline the harasser. Remember that sharing such information is a breach of the privacy rights of that student.  (11) Inform parents if a student is allegedly being bullied or harassed, whether it reportedly took place at school or away from school.  (12) Regularly follow up with the target, to ensure everything is going alright.

12 12 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (13) Remind staff that they should report bullying or harassment against a student, and not just rely on the student to make the report. However, it is appropriate for the staff member to first encourage the student to make a report.  (14) School officials are most culpable when they fail to take action altogether, or take such little action that it would be considered an unreasonable level of response to the situation. (“Deliberate Indifference”)  (15) Remember, unless it is truly an isolated incident, your response should not be just about disciplining the harasser.

13 13 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment Recommendations:  (16) When you have safety concerns, always involve law enforcement!  The federal government revised FERPA after the VA TECH massacre to include the following language:  “If the educational agency or institution determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, it may disclose information from education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.”

14 14 12/19/2014 Bullying and Harassment  Questions???


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