Bullying and Harassment
Bullying and harassment of students can create an atmosphere of fear
and anxiety for all members of the school community. Bullying can affect the ability of a student to attend school; to learn and progress effectively in school; and to participate in activities inside and outside of school, including traveling to and from school, walking in the corridors, eating in the school cafeteria, playing in the school yard and participating in special or extracurricular activities. Bullying behaviors that are not addressed can lead to serious adverse consequences for students, including academic, attendance or psychological problems. The failure to address bullying behaviors also gives other students the message that it is permissible to engage in negative behaviors.
The bullying law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was signed on May 3, 2010, by Governor Patrick. This comprehensive legislation addresses bullying in schools. “An Act Relative to Bullying in Schools”, Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, requires all schools to create and implement strategies to prevent bullying, and to address bullying promptly and effectively when it occurs. Please see the following website link for more information: http://melroseschools.com/families/student-support-services/bullying- prevention-and-intervention/.
Melrose Elementary Schools have a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan, as required by law, which prohibits bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation. Provisions of the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan mandate that all school employees are required to report immediately an instance of bullying or retaliation that they witnessed or become aware of to the principal or assistant principal who shall promptly conduct an investigation. If the principal determines bullying has occurred:
1. The Melrose Police Department and/or School Resource Officer will be notified if the principal believes criminal charges may be pursed against the perpetrator.
2. The principal will take appropriate disciplinary action.
3. The principal will notify parents or guardians of the perpetrator.
4. The principal will notify parents or guardians of the victim and provide them with the action taken to prevent further acts of bullying.
Bullying is prohibited on school grounds, property adjacent to school grounds, at school-sponsored events or school-related events. Bullying that does not take place on school grounds is also prohibited when such bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the victim’s rights at school, or materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operations of the school. Retaliation against a person, who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, and/or witnesses or has reliable information, is also prohibited.
Prohibition Against Bullying and Harassment
Bullying of students occurring in the schools is prohibited by law and will not be tolerated by the Melrose Public Schools. For purposes of this policy, “school” includes schools buildings, school grounds, school- sponsored activities, including social events, field trips, sports events, and similar school-sponsored events and functions, and travel to and from school and/or school-sponsored events.
Definition of Bullying
The repeated use by one or more students or by a member of school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, or a paraprofessional of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. Bullying also includes cyberbullying, which is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic device, photo- electronic or photo-optical system, including but not limited to electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications or texts. Cyberbullying shall also include (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive of the definition of bullying.
- Physical aggression against students, including assaults on student property
- Intimidation or extortion, in any form, including cyber-bullying
- Oral or written threats
- Threatening looks or gestures
- Teasing, name-calling or putdowns
- Cruel rumors
- False accusations and
- Social isolation, such as shunning.
Intervention and Response to Alleged Bullying
The Melrose Public Schools takes allegations of bullying or retaliation seriously and will respond promptly to complaints and allegations of bullying or retaliation. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, school officials will conduct an investigation and impose corrective action, as necessary. The investigation will be completed within fourteen schools days from the date of the report. The parents/guardians will be contacted upon completion of the investigation and informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, and whether disciplinary action has or will be taken.
Any school employee or school volunteer who becomes aware or has a reasonable belief that harassment, bullying, discrimination, retaliation, or a hate crime has occurred or may have occurred on school property or in a school-related activity must promptly report the alleged incident(s) to the building Principal.
Any student or other person (who is not a school employee) who becomes aware or has a reasonable belief that such behaviors took place is strongly encouraged to and should promptly report the incident(s) to the building Principal.
Reports of bullying or retaliation may be made anonymously; provided, however, that no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student solely on basis of an anonymous report. Building Principal will further investigate anonymous reports. Please see the following link for the Melrose Public Schools Harassment Form: http://melroseschools.com/families/student-support-services/bullying- prevention-and-intervention/ which may be completed by anyone who wants to file an (anonymous) report.
Any person who makes knowingly false charges or brings a malicious complaint is subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action.
Disciplinary and Corrective Actions
Violation of this Policy is a serious offense. Violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary and/or corrective action to correct and end the conduct, prevent its reoccurrence, and protect the complainant and other similarly-situated individuals from harassment, discrimination, hate crimes, retaliation, and bullying in the future.
As a result of FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR part 99), school officials cannot tell a parent how they disciplined another student, even if his or her child was directly targeted by that student. School Officials must obey state and federal laws which mandate that they keep student records confidential and private.