Bullying, Harassment Discrimination Policy 5.7

Bullying, Harassment Discrimination  Policy 5.7

N. Bullying, Harassment, Discrimination

The Blount County Board of Education is committed to protecting its students and employees from bullying, harassment, or discrimination of any type. The school board believes that all students and employees are entitled to a safe, equitable, and harassment-free school experience. Bullying, harassment, or discrimination will not be tolerated and shall be just cause for disciplinary action. This policy shall be interpreted and applied consistently with all applicable state and federal laws. Conduct that constitutes bullying, harassment or discrimination, as defined herein, occurring on school property during the school day or at school-sponsored events is prohibited. The use of school equipment for the purpose of these actions is also prohibited.


Definitions

1. “Bullying” means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological 
distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted purposeful written, verbal, nonverbal, or physical behavior, including but not limited to any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by an adult or student, that has the potential to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment or cause long term damage; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual’s school performance or participation, is carried out repeatedly and is often characterized by an imbalance of power. 

Bullying may involve, but is not limited to:
a) unwanted teasing
b) threatening
c) intimidating
d) stalking
e) cyberstalking
f) cyberbullying
g) physical violence
h) theft
i) sexual, religious, or racial harassment
j) public humiliation
k) destruction of school or personal property
l) social exclusion, including incitement and/or coercion
m) rumor or spreading of falsehoods

2. “Harassment” means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, use of technology, computer software, or written, verbal or physical conduct directed against a 
student or school employee that:
a) places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm to his or her                               
i. person or damage to his or her property;
b) has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, or employee’s work performance, or either’s opportunities, or benefits;
c) has the effect of substantially negatively impacting a student’s or employee’s emotional or mental well-being; or
d) has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.

3. "Cyberstalking” means to engage in a course of conduct to communicate, or to cause to be communicated, words, images or language by or through the use of electronic mail or electronic communication, directed at or about a specific person, causing substantial emotional distress to that person and serving no legitimate purpose.

4. "Cyberbullying” is defined as the willful and repeated harassment and intimidation of a person through the use of digital technologies, including, but not limited to, email, blogs, social websites (e.g., MySpace, Facebook), chat rooms, and instant messaging.

5. “Bullying,” “Cyberbullying,” and/or “Harassment” also encompass:
a) retaliation against a student or school employee by another student or school employee for asserting or alleging an act of bullying, harassment, or   discrimination.
b) retaliation also includes reporting a baseless act of bullying, harassment, or      discrimination that is not made in good faith.
c) perpetuation of conduct listed in the definition of bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination by an individual or group with intent to demean, dehumanize, embarrass, or cause emotional or physical harm to a student or school employee by-
I. incitement or coercion;

II. accessing or knowingly and willingly causing or providing access to data or computer software through a computer, computer system, or computer network  within the scope of the district school system; or 

III. acting in a manner that has an effect substantially similar to the effect of bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

6. “Bullying,” “Harassment,” “Cyberstalking,” “Cyberbullying,” and “Discrimination” (hereinafter referred to as bullying, as defined in Section A, for the purpose of this Policy) also encompass, but are not limited to unwanted harm towards a student or employee in regard to their real or perceived sex, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability (physical, mental, or educational), marital status, socio-economic background, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, or social/family background or being viewed as different in its education programs or admissions to education programs.
(Revised May 2, 2009)

7 Reporting, Investigating, and Complaint Resolution Procedures
a. Complaints alleging violations of this policy must be made on Board approved complaint forms available at the principals and/or counselor's office. The complaint must be signed by the student alleging the violation or by the student's parent or legal guardian and delivered to the principal or the principal's designee either by mail or personal delivery. At the request of the complaining student or the student's parent or legal guardian, incidental or minor violations of the policy may be presented and resolved informally. 
b. Upon receipt of the complaint, the principal or the principal's designee will, in their sole discretion, determine if the complaint alleges a serious violation of this policy. If the principal or the principal's designee determines that the complaint alleges a serious violation, the principal or the principal's designee will undertake an investigation of the complaint. The investigation will entail the gathering of relevant facts and evidence and will be conducted in a reasonably prompt time period taking into account the circumstances of the complaint. If the investigation establishes a violation, appropriate disciplinary sanctions will be imposed on the offending student(s). Other measures that are reasonably calculated to prevent a recurrence of the violation(s) may also be imposed by the principal or the school system.
c. Acts of reprisal or retaliation against any student who has reported a violation of this policy or sought relief provided by this policy are prohibited, and are themselves in violation of this policy. Any confirmed acts of reprisal or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary sanctions that may include any sanction, penalty, or consequence that is available to school officials under the Code of Student Conduct. A student who deliberately, recklessly, and falsely accuses another student of a violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary sanctions as outlined in the Code of Student Conduct. 
d. The complaint form developed to report violations of this policy will include a provision for reporting a threat of suicide by a student. If a threat of suicide is reported, the principal or the principal's designee will inform the student's parent or guardian of the report. 
(G) (Revised/approved April 4, 2011)

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