It is the intent of the Veazie School Committee to provide all students with an equitable opportunity to learn. To that end, the Veazie School Committee has a significant interest in providing a safe, orderly, and respectful school environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.
Bullying, including cyberbullying, is detrimental to student learning and achievement. It interferes withthe mission of the schools to educate their students and disrupts the operations of the schools. Bullying affects not only students who are targets but also those who participate in and those who witness such behavior.
The School Committee also believes that promoting ethical and responsible behavior is an essential part of the school unit’s educational purpose. Ethics, responsible behavior, and “character” are important if a student is to leave school as a “responsible and involved citizen” as described in the Guiding Principles of Maine’s system of Learning Results. Bullying interferes with the accomplishment of this goal.
Finally, the School Committee recognizes the well-publicized incidents of violence and threatened violence that have occurred nationally in the past several years. As research suggests, there is a link between bullying and school violence, and the Board seeks to avoid such incidents and instead take a systematic approach to bullying prevention and intervention.
It is not theSchool Committee’s intent to prohibit students from expressing their ideas, including ideas that may offend the sensibilities of others, or from engaging in civil debate. However, the School Committee does not condone and will take action in response to conduct that interferes with students’ opportunity to learn, the educational mission of the Veazie School Department, and the operation of the schools.
Bullying, as defined in this policy, is not acceptable conduct in Veazie School department schools and is prohibited. Any student who engages in conduct that constitutes bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences up to and including suspension and expulsion. A student’s bullying behavior may also be addressed through other behavioral interventions.
For the purpose of this policy, “bullying” means any physical act or gesture or any verbally, written, or electronically communicated expression that:
A. A reasonable person should expect will have the effect of:
1. Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property;
2. Placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm or damage to his/her property; or
3. Substantially disrupting the instructional program or the orderly operations of the school; or
B. Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile educational environment for the student who is bullied.
Cyberbullying means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, including but not limited to, a transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted by the use of any electronic device including, but not limited to, a computer, telephone, cellular telephone, text messaging device or personal digital assistant.
Application of Policy
This policy applies to bullying that takes place at school or on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity or event, or while students are being transported to or from school or school-sponsored activities or events, or at any time while using school-issued laptops or other Veazie School Department technology.
It also applies to bullying that occurs at any other time or place that substantially disrupts the instructional program, the operations of the school, or the welfare of students. In this situation and when there is no finding of fact, principals will consult with the superintendent before taking disciplinary action.
Examples of conduct that may constitute bullying include, but are not limited to:
A. Physical contact or injury to another person or his/her property;
B. Threats of harm to a student, to his/her possessions, or to other individuals, whether transmitted verbally, in writing, or through cyberspace;
C. Blackmail, extortion, demands for protection money, or involuntary loans or donations;
D. Non-verbal threats and/or intimidations such as use of aggressive or menacing gestures;
F. Blocking access to school property or facilities;
G. Stealing or hiding books, backpacks, or other possessions; and
H. Repeated or pervasive taunting, name-calling, belittling, mocking, put-downs, or demeaning humor relating to a student’s race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ancestry, religion, disability, or other personal characteristics, whether or not the student actually possesses them, that could reasonably be expected to result in disruption of the instructional program or operations of the schools, or that results in a hostile educational environment for the student.
For the purpose of this policy, bullying does not mean interactions among consensual friends, nor does it include expression of ideas or beliefs so long as such expression is not lewd, profane, or does not interfere with students’ opportunity to learn, the instructional program, or the operations of the schools. This does not preclude teachers or school administrators from setting and enforcing rules for civility, courtesy, and/or responsible behavior in the classroom and the school environment.
The determination whether particular conduct constitutes bullying requires reasonable consideration of the circumstances, which include the frequency of the behavior at issue, the location in which the behavior occurs, the ages and maturity of the students involved, the activity or context in which the conduct occurs, and the nature and severity of the conduct.
Delegation of Responsibility
The Superintendent will be responsible for working with school administrators and guidance staff to develop, implement and oversee procedures for:
A. Student and parent reporting of bullying to staff and school administrators;
B. Staff reporting of bullying to school administrators;
C. Review of reports and investigation of bullying incidents;
D. Intervention with and/or discipline of students who engage in bullying;
E. Support for students who are victims of bullying;
F. Regular, on-going training programs in bullying prevention for staff and students; and
G. Periodic evaluation of bullying prevention, intervention, and training efforts in Veazie School Department schools and reporting on such efforts to the School Committee annually in June and/or upon request of the Board at any other time.
Students who have been bullied or who observe incidents of bullying are strongly encouraged to report this behavior to a staff member or school administrator. Parents/ caregivers are also encouraged to report incidences of bullying to school administrators. Staff should report bullying to the building principal.
Acts of reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an incident of bullying are prohibited. Any student who is determined to have falsely accused another of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary consequences.
Responding to Bullying
In determining the appropriate response to students who engage in bullying behavior, school administrators should consider the ages and maturity of the students involved, the type of behaviors, the frequency and/or pattern of behaviors, the context in which the incident occurred, and other relevant circumstances. Consequences may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension, expulsion, and/or reports to law enforcement officials.
Dissemination of Policy
School employees, students, and parents/guardians shall be informed of this policy/procedure through handbooks and/or other means selected by the school administration.
Legal Reference: 20-A M.R.S.A. § 1001(15)(H)
P.L. 2005, ch. 307 § 4-5
Cross Reference: AC: Nondiscrimination, Equal Opportunity
ACAA: Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students
ADF: School District Commitment to Learning Results
IJNDB: Student Computer and Internet Use
JI: Student Rights and Responsibilities
JICC: Student Conduct on Buses
JICIA: Weapons, Violence and School Safety
JK: Student Discipline
JKD: Suspension of Students
JKE: Expulsion of Students
Student Code of Conduct