LPS Anti-Bullying Policies and Practices
Adopted by the Lee School Committee on April 2011
Download LPS Bullying Policy (PDF)
The Lee Public School District is committed to providing a safe and respectful environment that supports individual academic success, personal growth and social responsibility for all learners free from bullying and cyber-bullying. This commitment is essential to the District’s vision to create and support a community of student scholars who have the competence, capacity and confidence to pursue post-secondary education without remediation and realize their personal aspirations. The commitment is further strengthened by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, Act Relative to Bullying in Schools, prohibiting all forms of bullying and retaliation in all Massachusetts public and private schools. In accordance with this legislation, the District has developed the following Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.
Lee Public Schools has developed the Bullying Plan with the ideals that the community, families and school personnel have come to expect from their most cherished commodity. The plan serves as a community guide to the activities, curriculum and training the District is or will commit to the intervention and prevention of bullying. The School District realizes it must be partners with the community, parents and students to continue our mission of a safe and respectful environment so our young people can grow, aspire, and achieve.
Lee Public Schools
Bullying Intervention and Prevention Plan
On or before December 31, 2010, Lee Public Schools will submit the Lee Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and post it on the Lee Public Schools website. The Plan will be reviewed and updated at least biennially, as mandated by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O sec. 5(d).
A. Public Involvement in Developing the Plan
As required by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, sec. 5 (d) the Plan will be developed in
Consultation with various constituencies. This involvement will include:
Lee Public Schools administration, staff, professional support personnel, school students, parents and guardians, local law enforcement agencies, and community representatives. This process will be conducted biennially. Consultation will include, at a minimum, notice and a public survey period prior to adoption.
B. Assessing Needs and Resources
The district’s administrative team, with input from families and staff, will assess the adequacy of current programs. This may include the following:
- Review of current policies and procedures
- Review of available data on bullying and behavioral incidents
- Assessment of available resources including curricula, training programs, and
- behavioral health services
- Reading of current and relevant articles and research on best methodology to prevent and intervene to address bullying and cyber-bullying
- Research and review of ‘field-tested’ and research-based anti-bullying curricula and instructional guides
- Development of a resource bank of relevant materials for both parents and studentseview of the MA comprehensive Health and Wellness Curriculum Frameworks to provide a working curriculum context for anti-bullying curriculum
- Assessments of initial and periodic needs, by surveying students, staff,parents, and guardians on school climate and school safety
C. Planning and Oversight
The building Principals or designee will be responsible for the following tasks under the Plan:
- Receiving reports on bullying
- Collecting and analyzing building and/or school-wide data on bullying toassess the present problem and to measure improved outcomes
- Creating a process for recording and tracking incident reports, and for accessing information related to targets and aggressors
- Implement the district plan for the ongoing professional development that is required by the law
- Identifying and recommending supports that will respond to the needs of targets and aggressors
- Implementing the curricula that each school will use
- Amending student and staff handbooks and codes of conduct
- Leading the parent or family engagement efforts and drafting parent information materials
The Director of Technology will be responsible for updating the Internet Safety Use
Policy. The Superintendent will be responsible for reviewing and updating the Plan
biennially, or more frequently.
D. Priority Statements
A. It is the policy of the Lee Middle and High School to provide a learning and working atmosphere for students, employees and visitors free from bullying, hazing, harassment, and intimidation. These terms are collectively referenced as “harassment”. Such action may occur on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, genetics, disability, or for any other reason.
B. It is the responsibility of every employee, student, and parent to recognize acts of harassment and take every action necessary to ensure that the applicable policies and procedures of this school district are implemented.
C. It is a violation of this policy for any administrator, teacher, or other employee, or for any student to engage in or condone harassment in school or to fail to report or otherwise take reasonable corrective measures when they become aware of an incident of harassment. All employees are mandated to report all cases of harassment, as required by this policy and state law.
D. This policy is not designed or intended to limit the school’s authority to take disciplinary action or take remedial action when such harassment occurs out of school but has a nexus to school, or is disruptive to or materially and substantially interferes with an employee’s work, personal life, a student’s school work, or participation in school-related opportunities or activities. Nothing contained herein shall require schools to staff any non-school related activities, functions, or programs.
Reports of cyber-bullying by electronic or other means, occurring in or out of school, will be reviewed and, when a nexus to work or school exists, will result in discipline. Parents of students alleged to have engaged in cyber-harassment will be invited to attend a meeting at which the activity, words or images subject to the complaint will be reviewed. A student disciplined for cyber-bullying will not be re-admitted to the regular school program until his or her parent(s) attend such meeting.
E. Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been subjected to harassment has the right to file a complaint and to receive prompt and appropriate handling of the complaint. Further, all reasonable efforts shall be made to maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of all parties, but proper enforcement of this policy may require disclosure of any or all information received.
F. The Building Principal/Designee shall be responsible for assisting employees and students seeking guidance or support in addressing matters relating to any form of harassment.
The Lee Public Schools will meet the requirements under M.G.L. c.71, S 370 to provide ongoing professional development for all staff, including but not limited to educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, and Paraprofessionals.
A. Annual Staff Training on the Plan
Annual training for all LPS staff on the Plan will include staff duties under the Plan, an overview of the steps that the building Principal or designee will follow upon receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation, and an overview of the bullying prevention curricula to be offered at all grades throughout the school.
B. Ongoing professional development
The Plan should state the content and frequency of staff training and ongoing professional development as determined by the school’s or district’s needs, and list other topics to be included in these staff programs. The locally identified additional areas of training should be based on needs and concerns identified by school and district staff. Plans should also identify which trainings will be provided district wide and which will be school-based. The law lists the following six topics that must be included in professional development:
- Developmentally (or age-) appropriate strategies to prevent bullying:
- The Lee Public Schools will annually provide professional development via the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, the MARC and other providers (including local resources) in means of preventing and stopping bullying. This professional development will include, but not be limited to, sending staff to train-the-trainer events, and making use of in-district experts in this area. This professional development will be delivered to all district and school based staff.
- The Lee Public Schools will provide professional development and information on the complex interaction and power differential among aggressors, targets and witnesses.
- Developmentally (or age-) appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents:
- The Lee Public Schools will annually provide professional development via the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, the MARC and other providers (including local resources) in interventions for stopping bullying. This professional development will include, but not be limited to, sending staff to train-the-trainer events, and making use of in-district experts in this area. This professional development will be delivered to all district and school based staff.
- Research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment:
- The Lee Public Schools will annually provide professional development via the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, the MARC and other providers (including local resources) to provide staff with information on students who are most at-risk for bullying. Activities will include in-class presentations from students and staff on the need to monitor and report on bullying involving special populations such as special education students, and the risk associated with GLBT students (including the use of the SPLC produced film “Bullied” with all district staff).This professional development will include, but not be limited to, sending staff to train-the-trainer events, and making use of in-district experts in this area, and will include training on the special care that must be taken when addressing bullying prevention issues through a student’s IEP, 504, or other school based plan. This professional development will be delivered to all district and school based staff.
- Information on the incidence and nature of cyber-bullying:
- The Lee Public Schools will annually provide professional development via the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, the MARC (including printed materials)and other providers (including local resources) to provide staff with information on cyberbullying. The district will likewise continue to make use of the Massachusetts State Police resources and training for online safety and cyberbullying prevention/avoidance. The district will continue to use its own technology and media center staff to reinforce areas of cyberbullying and internet safety for students, staff and parents.
- Internet safety issues as they relate to cyber-bullying:
- The Lee Public Schools will annually provide professional development via the Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office, the MARC (including printed materials) and other providers (including local resources) to provide staff with information on cyberbullying. The district will likewise continue to make use of the Massachusetts State Police resources and training for online safety and cyberbullying prevention/avoidance. The district will continue to use its own technology and media center staff to reinforce areas of cyberbullying and internet safety for students, staff and parents.
C. Written notice to staff
The Lee Public Schools will provide all staff with an annual written notice of the
Plan by publishing information about it, including sections related to staff duties, in the school employee handbook and the code of conduct.
A. Identifying Resources
Resources for targets, aggressors, and their families may include, but are not limited
to adopting new curricula, reorganizing staff, establishing safety planning teams,
and identifying other agencies that can provide services.
The Lee Public Schools Administrative team will be responsible for finalizing anti-bullying resources that may include, but are not limited to: the LPS Bullying Policy, curriculum and instructional guides and materials; LPS Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan; adopted related curricula, relevant articles for professional, student, and parent use; data on the prevalence and characteristics of bullying and behavioral issues; parent and student brochures; curriculum and books that help foster a sense of positive and pro-active school community and culture; relevant and useful web-sites; and linkages with community based organizations,
B. Counseling and other Services
A list of staff and service providers, who may assist schools in developing safety plans for students who have been targets of bullying or retaliation, providing social skills programs to prevent bullying, and offering education and/or intervention services for students exhibiting bullying behaviors, is available to all students and their families School Psychologists and School Adjustment Counselors are trained in more intensive interventions. School-based mental health staff are also trained to assist the building Principal in developing safety plans for students who have been targets of bullying or retaliation, providing social skills programs to prevent bullying, and offering education and/or intervention services for students exhibiting bullying behaviors. These resources include behavioral intervention plans, social skills groups, and individually focused curricula. When appropriate, interventions include collaboration with other community agencies and service providers in support of students with more targeted needs
C. Students with Disabilities
As required by M.G.L. c. 71B, § 3, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, when an IEP Team determines a student has a disability that affects social skills development or the student may participate in or is vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing because of his/her disability, the Team will consider what should be included in the IEP to develop the student's skills and proficiencies to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
D. Referral to outside services
The Lee Public Schools have established a referral protocol for families to
access appropriate and timely services. Referrals will comply with relevant laws and
policies. Current local referral protocols will be evaluated to assess their relevance to
the Plan, and revised as needed.
IV. ACADEMIC AND NON-ACADEMIC ACTIVITIES
A. Specific Bullying Prevention Approaches
Bullying prevention curricula will be informed by current research that, among other
things, emphasizes the following approaches:
- Using scripts and role plays to develop skills
- Empowering students to take action by knowing what to do when theywitness other students engaged in acts of bullying or retaliation, including seeking adult assistance
- Helping students understand the dynamics of bullying and cyber-bullying, including the underlying power imbalance
- Emphasizing cyber-safety, including safe and appropriate use of electronic communication technologies
- Enhancing students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships and respectful communications
- Engaging students in a safe, supportive school environment that is respectfulof diversity and difference
- Initiatives will also teach students about the student-related sections of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.
B. General teaching approaches that support bullying prevention efforts
The following approaches are integral to establishing a safe and supportive school
environment. These underscore the importance of the WPS bullying intervention and
- Setting clear expectations for students and establishing school and classroom
- Creating safe school and classroom environments for all students, including for students with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students,
and homeless students
- Using appropriate and positive responses and reinforcement, even when students require discipline
- Using positive behavioral supports
- Encouraging adults to develop positive relationships with students
- Modeling, teaching, and rewarding pro-social, healthy, and respectfulbehaviors
- Using positive approaches to behavioral health, including collaborativeproblem-solving, conflict resolution training, teamwork, and positive behavioral supports that aid in social and emotional development
- Using the Internet safely
- Supporting students’ interest and participation in non-academic and extracurricular activities, particularly in their areas of strength.
V. POLICIES AND PROCEDURES FOR REPORTING AND RESPONDING TO
BULLYING AND RETALIATION
To support efforts to respond promptly and effectively to bullying and retaliation, Lee Middle and High School has implemented the following policies and procedures for reporting and responding to bullying and retaliation.
The following is based on the requirements of M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O.
A. Reporting Bullying or Retaliation.
Reports of bullying or retaliation may be made by staff, students, parents or guardians, or others, and may be oral or written. Oral reports made by or to a staff member shall be recorded in writing. A school staff member is required to report immediately to the principal or designee any instance of bullying or retaliation the staff member becomes aware of or witnesses. Reports made by students, parents or guardians, or other individuals who are not school or district staff members, may be made anonymously. The school will make a variety of reporting resources available to the school community including, but not limited to, an Incident Reporting Form in the Student Handbook.
Use of an Incident Reporting Form is not required as a condition of making a report. The school will: 1) include a copy of the Incident Reporting Form in the beginning of the year in the Student Handbook for students and parents 2) make it available in the school’s main office, the guidance office, the school nurse's office, and other locations determined by the principal or designee; and 3) post it on the school’s website.
At the beginning of each school year, the school or district will provide the school community, including administrators, staff, students, and parents or guardians, with written notice of its policies for reporting acts of bullying and retaliation. A description of the reporting procedures and resources, including the name and contact information of the principal or designee, will be incorporated in student and staff handbooks, on the school or district website, and in information about the Plan that is made available to parents or guardians.
1. Reporting by Staff
A staff member will report immediately to the principal or designee when he/she witnesses or becomes aware of conduct that may be bullying or retaliation. The requirement to report to the principal or designee does not limit the authority of the staff member to respond to behavioral or disciplinary incidents consistent with school or district policies and procedures for behavior management and discipline.
2. Reporting by Students, Parents or Guardians, and Others
The school or district expects students, parents or guardians, and others who witness or become aware of an instance of bullying or retaliation involving a student to report it to the principal or designee. Reports may be made anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Students, parents or guardians, and others may request assistance from a staff member to complete a written report. Students will be provided practical, safe, private and age-appropriate ways to report and discuss an incident of bullying with a staff member, or with the principal or designee.
B. Responding to a Report of Bullying or Retaliation
Before fully investigating the allegations of bullying or retaliation, the principal or designee will take steps to assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Responses to promote safety may include, but not be limited to, creating a personal safety plan; pre-determining seating arrangements for the target and/or the aggressor in the classroom, at lunch, or on the bus; identifying a staff member who will act as a “safe person” for the target; and altering the aggressor’s schedule and access to the target. The principal or designee will take additional steps to promote safety during the course of and after the investigation, as necessary.
The principal or designee will implement appropriate strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a student who has reported bullying or retaliation, a student who has witnessed bullying or retaliation, a student who provides information during an investigation, or a student who has reliable information about a reported act of bullying or retaliation.
2. Obligations to Notify Others
a. Notice to parents or guardians. Upon determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the principal or designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor of this, and of the procedures for responding to it. There may be circumstances in which the principal or designee contacts parents or guardians prior to any investigation. Notice will be consistent with state regulations at 603 CMR 49.00.
b. Notice to Another School or District. If the reported incident involves students from more than one school district, charter school, non-public school, approved private special education day or residential school, or collaborative school, the principal or designee first informed of the incident will promptly notify by telephone the principal or designee of the other school(s) of the incident so that each school may take appropriate action. All communications will be in accordance with state and federal privacy laws and regulations, and 603 CMR 49.00.
c. Notice to Law Enforcement. At any point after receiving a report of bullying or retaliation, including after an investigation, if the principal or designee has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor, the principal will notify the local law enforcement agency. Notice will be consistent with the requirements of 603 CMR 49.00 and locally established agreements with the local law enforcement agency
The principal or designee will investigate promptly all reports of bullying or retaliation and, in doing so, will consider all available information known, including the nature of the allegation(s) and the ages of the students involved.
During the investigation the principal or designee will, among other things, interview students, staff, witnesses, parents or guardians, and others as necessary. The principal or designee (or whoever is conducting the investigation) will remind the alleged aggressor, target, and witnesses that retaliation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action.
Interviews may be conducted by the principal or designee, other staff members as determined by the principal or designee, and in consultation with the school counselor, as appropriate. To the extent practicable, and given his/her obligation to investigate and address the matter, the principal or designee will maintain confidentiality during the investigative process. The principal or designee will maintain a written record of the investigation.
Procedures for investigating reports of bullying and retaliation will be consistent with school or district policies and procedures for investigations. If necessary, the principal or designee will consult with legal counsel about the investigation.
The principal or designee will make a determination based upon all of the facts and circumstances. If, after investigation, bullying or retaliation is substantiated, the principal or designee will take steps reasonably calculated to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target is not restricted in participating in school or in benefiting from school activities. The principal or designee will: 1) determine what remedial action is required, if any, and 2) determine what responsive actions and/or disciplinary action is necessary.
Depending upon the circumstances, the principal or designee may choose to consult with the students’ teacher(s) and/or school counselor, and the target’s or aggressor’s parents or guardians, to identify any underlying social or emotional issue(s) that may have contributed to the bullying behavior and to assess the level of need for additional social skills development.
The principal or designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor about the results of the investigation and, if bullying or retaliation is found, what action is being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. All notice to parents must comply with applicable state and federal privacy laws and regulations. Because of the legal requirements regarding the confidentiality of student records, the principal or designee cannot report specific information to the target’s parent or guardian about the disciplinary action taken unless it involves a “stay away” order or other directive that the target must be aware of in order to report violations.
E. Responses to Bullying
1. Teaching Appropriate Behavior through Skills-Building.
Upon the principal or designee determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the District will use a range of responses that balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(d)(v). Skill-building approaches that the principal or designee may consider include:
- Offering individualized skill-building sessions based on the school’s/district’s anti- bullying curricula
- Providing relevant educational activities for individual students or groups of students in consultation with guidance counselors and other appropriate school personnel
- Implementing a range of academic and non-academic positive behavioral supports to help students understand pro-social ways to achieve their goals
- Meeting with parents and guardians to engage parental support and to reinforce the anti-bullying curricula and social skills building activities at home
- Adopting behavioral plans to include a focus on developing specific social skills
- Making a referral for evaluation
2. Taking Disciplinary Action
If the building Principal or designee decides that disciplinary action is
appropriate, the disciplinary action will be determined on the basis of facts found by the building Principal or designee, including the nature of the conduct, the age of the student(s) involved, and the need to balance accountability with the teaching of appropriate behavior. Discipline will be consistent with the Plan and
with the code of conduct for the school. Discipline procedures for students with disabilities are governed by the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which will be considered in conjunction with state laws regarding student discipline.
If the building Principal or designee determines that a student knowingly made a false allegation of bullying or retaliation, that student may be subject to disciplinary action.
3. Promoting Safety for the Target and Others
The building Principal or designee will consider what adjustments, if any, are needed in the school environment to enhance the target's sense of safety and that of others as well. One strategy that the building Principal or designee may use is to increase adult supervision at transition times and in locations where bullying is known to have occurred or is likely to occur.
Within a reasonable period of time following the determination and the ordering of remedial and/or disciplinary action, the building Principal or designee will contact the target to determine whether there has been a recurrence of the prohibited conduct and whether additional supportive measures are needed. If so, the building Principal or designee will work with appropriate school staff to implement them immediately.
VI. COLLABORATION WITH FAMILIES
A. Parent Education and Resources
The District will offer education programs for parents and guardians that are focused on the parental components of the anti-bullying curricula and social competency curricula used by the district or school.
B. Notification Requirements
Each year the District will inform parents or guardians of enrolled students about the anti-bullying curricula that are being used. This notice will include information about the dynamics of bullying, including cyberbullying and online safety. The District will send parents written notice each year about the student-related sections of the Plan and the school's or district's Internet safety policy. All notices and information made available to parents or guardians will be in hard copy and electronic formats, and will be available in the language(s) most prevalent among parents or guardians. The District will post the Plan and related information on its website.
VII. PROHIBITION OF BULLYING AND RETALIATION
Acts of bullying, which include cyber-bullying, are prohibited:
- On school grounds and property immediately adjacent to school grounds; at a school sponsored or school-related activity, function, or program whether on
or off school grounds; at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle
owned, leased, or used by a school district or school; or through the use of
technology or an electronic device owned, leased, or used by the school
- At a location, activity, function, or program that is not school-related through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or
used by the Lee Public Schools, if the acts create a hostile environment
at school for the target or witnesses, infringe on their rights at school, or
materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly
operation of a school
Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an
investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is
also prohibited. As stated in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, nothing in this Plan requires the
Lee Public Schools to staff any non-school related activities, functions, or
Several of the following definitions are copied directly from M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O
Aggressor is a student who engages in bullying, cyberbullying or retaliation.
Bullying, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:
- Causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property
- Places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property
- Creates a hostile environment at school for the target
- Infringes on the rights of the target at school
- Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school
Cyberbullying, is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyberbullying.
Hazing means any conduct or method of initiation, even if consented to, into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person.
Such conduct shall include, but is not limited to, whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, drug, or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep, rest, or extended isolation.
Hostile environment, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of a student’s education.
Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.
Staff, includes, but is not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, and advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or paraprofessionals.
Target, is a student against whom bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.
IX. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAW
Consistent with state and Federal laws, and the policies of the Lee Public
Schools, no person shall be discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town or in obtaining the advantages, privilege and courses of study of such
public school on account of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual
orientation. Nothing in the Plan prevents the Lee Public Schools from taking action to remediate discrimination or harassment based on a person’s membership in a legally protected category under local, state, or Federal law, or Lee Public Schools policies.
In addition, nothing in the Plan is designed or intended to limit the authority of the
schools to take disciplinary action or other action under M.G.L. c. 71, §§ 37H or
37H1/2, other applicable laws in response to violent, harmful, or disruptive behavior, regardless of whether the Plan covers the behavior.