SDOE Issues Memo on School Bullying Requirements

| Apr 5, 2009 | Student Matters |

A long-awaited memorandum from the State Department of Education describes in bullet-points the Department’s interpretation of the recent changes to the anti-bullying legislation found in Title 10 of the Connecticut General Statutes, and also adds a further gloss in the form of “best practices” for school districts to follow to improve school climate.  Among the tips provided by SDOE –

  • Although no disciplinary action should be taken on the basis of an anonymous report of bullying, schools should consider these reason to investigate.
  • Parents should be invited to at least one meeting, invitations for which should be in writing and maintained on file at the school. Meetings with parents of alleged victims and parents of alleged perpetrators should be held separately.  Notification of consequences must comply with FERPA.
  • Lists of verified acts of bullying will be collected by SDOE at some unidentified point in the future.
  • Investigation of bullying allegations may need to include the Title IX Coordinator to ensure that potential class harassment issues are identified and managed.
  • Revised bullying policies that were supposed to be submitted to SDOE as of February 1, 2009 need to be published in student/parent handbooks by July 1, 2009.
  • Districts need to implement some form of positive behavioral interventions and supports or evidence-based model for improving safe school climate or preventing bullying.
  • Although the statute requires surveys to determine the prevalence of bullying, SDOE prefers surveys that will determine school site safety, parent and staff perceptions, and assess the quality of the school climate.
  • Grade appropriate bullying curricula should also include programs focusing on building safe and positive school communities, developing healthy relationships and preventing dating violence.
  • School-wide training for adults related to school climate may include Title IX/Sexual Harassment training, Section 504/ADA training, cultural diversity and multi-cultural education and other training in civil rights legislation.
  • Parents should be invited to participate in improving school climate.
  • The term “harass” as adopted in the state definition of bullying conduct is tied to potential implications for state and federal statutes pertaining to protected classes (i.e., harassment based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation etc.).
  • Districts must complete a brief on-line survey required by SDOE to facilitate compliance with mandates placed on the SDOE.
  • Districts must upload their policies to the SDOE website if they have not already done so.

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