Safe and Inclusive Schools Act
IDS schools and other educational institutions must be safe and inclusive places of learning for all students and educators. Bullying, particularly in schools, has become an increasing problem in Atlasia and the IDS. Victims of bullying have suffered mental anguish, bodily injury and even death at the hands of their tormentors. Teen suicides due to bullying, intimidation or discrimination by peers or because of mental health issues have been rising in Atlasia and the IDS.
Bullying can leave a harmful and long-lasting mark on its victims. It can leave children with painful emotional and mental scarring and a lifelong struggle with self-esteem. Bullies suffer as well, since bullying may be indicative of deeper psychological and emotional problems. Children who bully more frequently experience psychological problems later in life, such as aggressive tendencies and occasional symptoms of depression.
SECTION 1: DEFINITIONS
1.1 "harassment, intimidation or bullying", thereafter referred to as "bullying" means the severe or repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, electronic or other form of expression, a physical act or gesture or any combination of them if it is directed at another student and that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or a mental, physical or sensory disability, or by any other distinguishing characteristic, that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function or on a school bus and that:
(a) causing physical or emotional harm to the other student or damage to the other student's property,
(b) placing the other student in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or damage to his or her property,
(c) creating a hostile environment at school for the other student,
(d) infringing on the legal rights of the other student at school, or
(e) materially and substantially disrupting the education process or the orderly operation of a school; (“intimidation”)
(1.1.1) Without limiting the generality of the definition of "harassment, intimidation or bullying" in subsection (1), bullying includes cyber-bullying, that is done through any form of electronic means using any technique, including,
(a) creating a web page or a blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person;
(b) impersonating another person as the author of posted content or messages; and
(c) communicating material to more than one person or posting material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons.
1.2 For the purposes of this Act, harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall be deemed to occur in a school if it occurs, (a) on a school site or public property within 150 metres of a school site; (b) during the course of an activity, function or program that is conducted for a school purpose, whether or not it takes place at a school site; (c) through the use of technology or an electronic device provided to students by a school; or (d) through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not provided to students by a school if the bullying has the effect of or is reasonably intended to have the effect described in clause (c), (d) or (e) of the definition of "harassment, intimidation, or bullying" in subsection (1).
SECTION 2: PREVENTING HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION OR BULLYING
2.1 Each school district shall adopt a policy prohibiting bullying on school property, at a school-sponsored function or on a school bus. While school districts will have local control over the content of the policy, each policy must include:
(1) a statement prohibiting bullying of a student;
(2) a description of the type of behavior expected from each student;
(3) consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who commits an act of bullying;
(4) a procedure for reporting an act of bullying, including a provision that permits a person to report an act of bullying anonymously; however, this shall not be construed to permit formal disciplinary action solely on the basis of an anonymous report;
(5) a procedure for prompt investigation of reports of violations and complaints, as outlined thereafter in subsection (3.1) of this present section;
(6) the range of ways in which a school will respond once an incident is identified;
(7) a statement that prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports such acts;
consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another as a means of retaliation or as a means of bullying; and,
(9) a statement of how the policy is to be publicized.
(2.1.1) Each school district's policy will be assessed and approved by the superintendent of district schools.
(2.1.2) The superintendent of district schools must monitor the implementation and application of these polices, and report upon them at the end of very school year. The report produced shall be publicly available and posted on the websites of the district and individual schools.
2.2 Training on harassment, intimidation, and bullying shall be part of the training required for public school teaching staff members in suicide prevention.
(2.2.1) By the 2013-2014 school year all candidates for school administrator or teacher certification will be required to complete a program on harassment, intimidation, or bullying prevention, and that training in this area will be a part of the professional development requirements for these individuals.
2.3 Any school employee observing or having direct knowledge from a participant or victim of an act of harassment, intimidation, and bullying shall report the act(s) to the school principal.
(2.3.1) The principal will be responsible for initiating an investigation within one school day of the report of the incident, conducted by the anti-bullying specialist.
(a) The investigation shall be completed within 15 days of notification of the incident, unless information relative to the investigation that is anticipated but not yet received by the end of this period.
(b) The results of the investigation shall be reported to the superintendent of schools within two school days of the completion of the investigation. The superintendent will, as appropriate, discuss and recommend any disciplinary action and/or counseling and other intervention services. As appropriate and at the superintendent's discretion, the superintendent may notify the appropriate law enforcement agency that an act of bullying has occurred if criminal charges may be laid against the perpetrator.
(c) Parents or guardians of the students who are parties to the investigation shall be entitled to receive information about the investigation. A parent or guardian may, within 5 days following the receipt of the investigation report by the board, request a hearing before the board.
(d) The board will, at its next meeting, affirm, reject or amend the superintendent's decision.
(2.3.2) A school administrator who receives a report of harassment, intimidation, or bullying from a district employee, and fails to initiate or conduct an investigation, or who should have known of an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying and fails to take sufficient action to minimize or eliminate the harassment, intimidation, or bullying, may be subject to disciplinary action.
2.4 Two times each school year, each school principal will report all acts of harassment, intimidation, and bullying which occurred the previous reporting period to the district superintendent of schools. This report must include the number of such incidents, the status of investigations, the nature of bullying the type and nature of any discipline imposed on any student engaged in such acts. School districts must report this information to the Department of Education.
2.5 Harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall be added to the list of behaviours which constitute good cause for suspension or expulsion from school.
2.6 A member of the board, school employee, student or volunteer shall not engage in reprisal, retaliation or false accusation against a victim, witness or one with reliable information about an act of bullying.
2.7 Schools and schools district shall annually establish, implement, document, and assess bullying prevention programs or approaches. Schools must also provide instruction on bullying prevention during the school year for every student and ensure that the instruction is appropriate to the age of the students receiving it and conforms with the curriculum guidelines. Such programs must include instruction on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
(2.7.1) A school district may apply to the Department of Education for a grant to be used for programs or approaches established pursuant to this subsection. The Department of Education is responsible for ensuring that such grants are only granted to school districts whose program conforms with any departmental regulations and the present Act.
2.8 Notwithstanding the definition provided in Section 1.2, a school district has the power to take or recommend actions on any reported incidents harassment, intimidation, or bullying that occurs off school grounds, in cases in which a school employee is made aware of such actions, and such actions create a hostile environment at school for the student, infringe on the rights of the student at school, or disrupt the education process or orderly operation of a school. The responses to harassment, intimidation, or bullying that occurs off school grounds shall be consistent with the Department's code of student conduct and other provisions of the board’s policy on harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
2.9 The principal in each school shall appoint a school anti-bullying specialist, preferably a qualified and trained individual currently employed by the school. The anti-bullying specialist shall:
(a) lead investigations into all reported incidents;
(b) act as the primary school official responsible for preventing, identifying, and addressing incidents of bullying in the school;
(c) educate staff, students and parents on bullying; and,
(d) Cooperate with other anti-bullying specialists from the school district to prevent bullying and implement the school district's policy.
(2.9.1) Those appointed to serve as anti-bullying specialist must be qualified pursuant to subsection (2.2).