Two new laws require school districts and charter schools to reconsider their approach to bullying. The first new bullying law requires school boards and charter schools to make extensive revisions to their bullying policies. The second new bullying law requires schools to review reports of off-campus bullying and offer support to student victims of bullying wherever the bullying occurred.
Board and charter school policies must now include detailed information about how the school district handles bullying, including the following:
- the definition of bullying;
- a statement that bullying is contrary to State law, yet students retain protected rights to free expression and free exercise of religion;
- procedures for promptly reporting bullying, including a procedure for anonymous reports;
- procedures for promptly informing parents of the availability of support services, including restorative measures, a new term encompassing discipline alternatives;
- procedures for meeting with parents to inform them about a bullying investigation;
- timelines for bullying investigations; and
- processes for evaluating the bullying policy that make information and data about the policy’s effectiveness available on the District’s website.
Additionally, effective January 1, 2015, districts’ policies must prohibit cyberbullying and must include a process for investigating whether individual incidents of off-campus bullying should be disciplined by the school. The new requirements are extensive and will require changes to the policies of nearly every school district in the State.