FILE:  JCDAG

Cf:  EBBB, IFBGA, JAA

Cf:  JCD, JCEA

Cf:  JD, JDD

 

BULLYING, HARASSMENT, AND HAZING

 

 

The DeSoto Parish School Board shall be committed to maintaining a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment so that no student is subject to bullying, hazing, or similar behavior while in school or participating in school-related activities.  Students and their parents/guardians shall be notified that the school, school bus, and all other school environments are to be safe and secure for all.  Therefore, the School Board prohibits and shall not tolerate bullying, harassment, hazing, or similar behavior on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity or function, on any school bus or van, at any designated school bus stop, in any other school or private vehicle used to transport students to and from school or any school-sponsored activity or event, or otherwise in a manner or by a method which operates to disrupt the educational process.

 

The DeSoto Parish School Board shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities, including all academic, extracurricular and school-sponsored activities.  Equal educational opportunity shall be a priority for all students and harassment of any kind shall be strictly prohibited.

 

Any student who believes he or she has been subjected to harassment or a hostile environment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age has the right to report any such incident(s) and to have the alleged harassment or hostile environment investigated.  The School Board shall conduct a prompt investigation of formal and informal complaints of harassment.  Any student found to have engaged in acts of harassment or other acts that create a hostile environment based on race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age shall be appropriately disciplined, which may include suspension or expulsion.  The DeSoto Parish School Board shall encourage students, parents, and district staff to work together to prevent acts of harassment of any kind.

 

The DeSoto Parish School Board shall adhere to the equal opportunity provisions of federal civil rights laws and regulations applicable to this agency.  The School Board shall not tolerate acts of harassment, including but not limited to acts of harassment based on race, color, or national origin pursuant to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies:

 

Director of Student Services

DeSoto Parish School Board Office

(318) 872-1198

523 Oxford Road

Mansfield, LA 71052

 

All students, teachers, and other school employees shall take responsible measures to report and/or prevent violations of this policy as provided below.  All alleged violations of this policy shall be handled judiciously and in a timely manner.

 

PROHIBITIONS AND DEFINITIONS

 

The following conduct is specifically prohibited and shall be subject to the reporting, investigation, disciplinary, and appeal procedures set forth under procedures below.

 

  1. Bullying and Harassment

    Intentional gestures or written, verbal, or physical acts that a reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effect of harming a student and/or damaging his/her property or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his/her life or person or damage to his/her property and is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.

    Bullying shall mean:

    A pattern of any one or more of the following:

 

  1. Gestures, including but not limited to obscene gestures and making faces.

  2. Written, electronic, or verbal communication, including but not limited to calling names, threatening harm, taunting, malicious teasing, or spreading untrue rumors.  Electronic communication includes, but is not limited to, a communication or image transmitted by e-mail, instant message, text message, blog, or social networking website through the use of a telephone, mobile phone, pager, computer, or other electronic device.

  3. Physical acts, including but not limited to hitting, kicking, pushing, tripping, choking, damaging personal property, or unauthorized use of personal property.

  4. Repeatedly and purposefully shunning or excluding from activities.

    And, where the pattern of behavior as provided above is exhibited toward a student, more than once, by another student or group of students and occurs, or is received by, a student while on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related function or activity, in any school bus or van, at any designated bus stop, in any other school or private vehicle used to transport students to and from schools, or any school-sponsored activity or event.

    And, the pattern of behavior as provided above must have the effect of physically harming a student, placing the student in reasonable fear of physical harm, damaging a student’s property, or must be sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough to either create an intimidating or threatening educational environment, have the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s performance in school, or have the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

 

  1. Harassment 

    While bullying, intimidation, harassment, and hazing for any purpose or reason is prohibited, the School Board particularly prohibits such on the basis of a person’s race, color, or national origin.  Harassment in this context shall mean engaging in bullying or harassment of a person because of his/her race or skin color by the use of derogatory language, intimidating language and/or actions, threats, unwanted physical contact and/or violence, and/or the use of derogatory images related to race, skin color, or national origin.

  2. Hazing

    Hazing shall mean any knowing behavior, whether by commission or omission, of any student to encourage, direct, order, or participate in any activity which subjects another student to potential physical, mental, or psychological harm for the purpose of initiation or admission into, affiliation with, continued membership in, or acceptance by existing members of any organization or extracurricular activity at a public elementary or secondary school, whether such behavior is planned or occurs on or off school property, including any school bus and school bus stop.  Hazing does not mean any adult-directed and school-sanctioned athletic program practice or event or military training program.

    Any solicitation to engage in hazing, and the aiding and abetting another person who engages in hazing shall be prohibited.  The consent, stated or implied, of the hazing victim shall not be a defense in determining disciplinary action.

  3. Hostile Environment

    Whether conduct constitutes a hostile environment must be determined from the totality of the circumstances.  Factors to consider may include frequency and severity of discriminatory conduct, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating or merely offensive, and whether it interferes with work performance; psychological harm is not required but may be taken into account like any other relevant factor.  Other relevant factors may include the nature, frequency, and content of racial harassment, as well as identities of perpetrators and victims.

 

COMPLAINT REPORTING/INVESTIGATION PROCEDURES

 

STEP ONE: Complaint Reporting

 

A complaint of an alleged violation of this policy must be sufficiently clear and explicit so that it can be investigated as a report of bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior.  This means that a complaint report shall, at a minimum, include:  (1) a description of the alleged act, including the date, time, and place it allegedly occurred; (2) identity of the alleged victim; (3) identity of the alleged perpetrator; and (4) identity of the reporting person.  The written complaint report must include an affirmation of truth statement.  A complaint report form shall be provided.

 

Any report of bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior, shall remain confidential.

 

Students and Parents

 

Any student who believes that he/she or another student has been, or is currently, the victim of bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior, or any student, or any parent or guardian, who witnesses bullying and/or harassment or has good reason to believe bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior is taking place should immediately report the situation to a school official.

 

A student, parent or guardian may also report concerns regarding bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior to a teacher, counselor, or other school employee, or to any parent chaperoning or supervising a school function or activity.

 

School Personnel

 

School personnel for purposes of reporting bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior means any teacher, counselor, bus operator, or other school employee, whether full or part time, and any parent chaperoning or supervising a school function or activity.

 

Any school personnel, as defined above, who witnesses bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior, or who learns of bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior from a student pursuant to the above, immediately shall report the incident to a school official.  A verbal report shall be submitted by the school employee or the parent on the same day the employee or parent witnessed or otherwise learned of the bullying incident, and a written report shall be filed no later than two (2) days thereafter.

 

Any school personnel, as defined above, who observe acts of bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior on any basis, including but not limited to bullying harassment, hazing or similar behavior based on race, color, or national origin, should intervene to stop the harassment, unless circumstances would make such intervention dangerous.

 

Anti-Retaliation

 

Retaliation against any person who reports bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior in good faith, who is thought to have reported bullying harassment, hazing or similar behavior, who files a complaint, or who otherwise participates in an investigation inquiry concerning allegations of bullying and/or harassment is prohibited conduct and subject to discipline.  School and district resources shall not be used to prohibit or dissuade any person who meets specifications of this item.

 

False Reports

 

Intentionally making false reports about bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior to school officials is prohibited conduct and shall result in appropriate disciplinary measures.

 

STEP TWO: Investigation

 

An investigation shall be performed for the purpose of determining the facts relative to the alleged violation and the appropriate administrative response.

 

Investigations will be conducted in a fair, impartial, thorough, thoughtful manner and in compliance with all applicable state and federal laws.  Utmost consideration shall be given to preserving the privacy and other legal rights of students, parents/legal guardians, and school staff members involved during the investigation process.

 

Timelines

 

Within one (1) school day of receiving a verbal or written complaint report from a student, parent/guardian, or by school personnel, the building principal/designee shall institute an investigation to determine the validity of the allegations contained in the report, which investigation shall be concluded as expeditiously as possible but at least within ten (10) school days.  If additional information is received after the end of the ten-day period, the school principal or his/her designee shall amend all documents and reports to reflect such information.

 

If an employee receives an anonymous complaint or media report about an alleged incident, the employee shall report the alleged incident to the building principal, who shall consider the specificity and reliability of the information, the seriousness of the alleged incident, and whether any individuals can be identified who were subjected to the alleged conduct in determining whether it is reasonable to pursue an investigation.

 

Scope of Investigation

 

The investigation shall include:

 

  1. obtaining a written report from the reporting student, parent, and/or reporting school personnel, which written report shall be made on a form provided by the school district;

  2. interviewing the reporter, the victim, the alleged bully/harasser, and any witnesses;

  3. obtaining oral, visual or written evidence, including, but not limited to statements, writings, recordings, electronic messages, and photographs; and

  4. making reasonable efforts to determine whether prior reports or complaints of similar conduct have been made against the alleged perpetrator for the sole purpose of determining whether a pattern of similar conduct may exist.

 

Interviews shall be conducted privately, separately, and confidentially, and unless necessary for the investigation, the alleged offender and alleged victim shall not be interviewed together.

 

Handling Evidence

 

Whenever an employee/administrator receives notice of a bullying, harassment, hazing, or similar behavior, any physical evidence of the act/communication shall be secured in the building administrator’s office with as little physical contact as possible.  If the act/communication is in the form of graffiti, the area shall be sealed off by the building administrator.  Photographs shall be taken as soon as possible.  Student/public exposure shall be as minimal as possible.  Graffiti shall not be removed until law enforcement has properly examined the area.

 

STEP 3:  Report, Decision and Notice

 

As soon as possible but no later than ten (10) school days after the written complaint report is submitted to the principal/designee, the school official shall compose a written document containing the findings of the investigation, including input from the students’ parents or legal guardian, and the decision by the school or school system official, and provide notice of the results to all parties, including the parent/guardian of the alleged victim, the parent/guardian of the alleged perpetrator, and the principal/designee (if not the investigator), appropriately redacted to comply with applicable law and regulations.

 

DISCIPLINARY AND OTHER CORRECTIVE ACTION

 

Where a violation of this policy is found to have occurred, the School Board, through the Superintendent and designated staff shall take prompt, appropriate corrective action to end the conduct, prevent its recurrence, and address its effect on the targeted student.

 

The building principal/designee shall determine the appropriate disciplinary action and other corrective action to be taken against any student who is determined to have engaged in conduct in violation of this policy in accordance with relevant disciplinary policies and law, including, but not limited to, possible suspension or expulsion, the possibility of suspension of a student’s driver’s license for one year, and the possible criminal consequences of violent acts committed on school property, at a school-sponsored function, or in a firearm-free zone.

 

Other appropriate corrective action may include: counseling; separating the students, provided that such steps minimize to the extent possible any disadvantage to the targeted student; informing the targeted student and his/her family of how to report any subsequent problems; and conducting follow-up to determine whether there have been any new incidents or any instances of retaliation against the targeted student or any witnesses, and responding promptly and appropriately to address continuing or new instances.

 

Counseling services shall be offered to any student found to have been subjected to bullying, harassment, hazing or similar behavior on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

 

APPEAL

 

If the school principal or his/her designee does not take timely and effective action in any bullying incident, the student, parent, or school employee may report, in writing, the incident to the School Board.  The School Board shall begin an investigation of any properly reported complaint that alleges prohibited conduct the next business day during which school is in session after the report is received by the School Board.

 

If the School Board does not take timely and effective action, the student, parent, or other school employee may report any bullying incident to the Louisiana Department of Education.

 

MAINTENANCE OF RECORDS

 

Responsibility and Maintenance Period

 

The principal/designee shall be responsible for ensuring that all documents related to a report or investigation under this policy, regardless of outcome, are maintained at the building level in a clearly identified file for at least three (3) calendar years or as otherwise provided by law.

 

Confidentiality

 

Such file(s) shall be maintained in a confidential manner and in accordance with state and federal privacy laws, and shall be kept confidential except where disclosure is required by applicable federal laws, rules, or regulations or by state law or regulations.

 

TRAINING

 

The School Board shall provide a minimum of four (4) hours of training for all new employees who have contact with students and two (2) hours of training each subsequent year for all school employees who have contact with students, including bus operators, with respect to bullying, in accordance with state statutory provisions.

 

CHILD ABUSE

 

The provisions of this policy shall not be interpreted to conflict with or supersede the provisions requiring mandatory reporting pursuant to Louisiana Children's Code, Art. 609, Art. 610, and as enforced through La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14:403.

 

Revised:  August, 2004 Revised:  October 3, 2013
Revised:  October, 2004 Revised:  December 6, 2018
Revised:  January 8, 2013  

 

 

Ref:    20 USC 1232(g-i) (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act)

La. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§14:40.3, 14:40.7, 14:40.8, 14:403, 17:105, 17:105.1, 17:183, 17:416, 17:416.1, 17:416.13

La. Children’s Code, Art. 609, Art. 730, Art. 731

Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 119 S. Ct. 1661 (1991)

Board minutes, 10-4-01, 10-7-04, 12-9-10, 1-8-13, 10-3-13, 12-6-18

 

DeSoto Parish School Board