Bullying and Harassing Behavior

Source: Policy 5131.1, Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying

1.     Students shall not engage in bullying or harassing behavior at school or during a school activity or school-sponsored function, whether on or off campus, or on the school bus.  No student or school employee shall be subjected to bullying or harassing behavior by school employees or students.

2.     The term “bullying or harassing behavior” shall be defined as any pattern of gestures or written, electronic, or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, that:

a.     Places a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property; or

b.     Creates or is certain to create a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student's educational performance, opportunities, or benefits.

3.     For purposes of this Policy, "hostile environment" shall be defined as a victim subjectively views the conduct as bullying or harassing behavior and the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree it is bullying or harassing behavior.

4.     Bullying or harassing behavior includes, but is not limited to, acts reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, socioeconomic status, academic status, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, developmental, or sensory disability, or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.

5.     Types of prohibited bullying or harassing behavior includes, but are not limited to:

a.     Repeated and deliberate making of obscene gestures, pushing, shoving, hair pulling, and any other unwelcomed physical contact intended to create an intimidating and hostile environment; and/or

b.     Acts of verbal bullying including, but not limited to:

                                      i.     hurtful name-calling, teasing, or intimidating;

                                    ii.     defaming or spreading false rumors about another person to cause the victim to be disliked, humiliated or disrespected by their peers;

                                   iii.     persuading, encouraging or leading other students to exclude or socially isolate the victim in order to cause emotional harm;

                                   iv.     extorting money, property or services from another student; and/or

                                     v.     making derogatory, demeaning or hostile comments about another student’s actual or perceived differentiating characteristic(s) as set forth hereinabove.

6.     No person shall engage in any act of reprisal or retaliation against a victim, witness, or a person with reliable information about an act of bullying or harassing behavior.

7.     A school employee, student or volunteer who witnesses or has reliable information a student or school employee has been subject to any act of bullying or harassing behavior shall report the incident to a teacher, Principal, Assistant Principal or, if the employee committing the behavior is the Principal, to the appropriate grade level Assistant Superintendent. Reports may be made anonymously or with the condition of anonymity to the extent allowed by law.

8.     The Principal or the Principal’s designee shall promptly investigate all reports of serious violations and complaints of bullying or harassment.

9.     This Policy shall be disseminated and publicized in student and parent handbooks, shall be available on the WS/FCS website and shall be reviewed with students by Principals or their designees at the beginning of the school year in the same manner as other portions of the student code of conduct.

10. Nothing herein shall be construed to permit or require school officials to punish student expression or speech based on an undifferentiated fear or apprehension of disturbance or out of a desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.