The law defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as “any gesture, any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it be a single incident or series of incidents, that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic… that takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, on a school bus, or off school grounds … that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students, and that a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or damage his property.”
Reporting and procedural requirements
All school employees and contracted service providers are required to report such incidents in every public school in the state, including higher education.
All acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying must be reported verbally to the school principal on the same day when the school employee or contracted service provider witnesses or receives reliable information regarding any such incident. The school employee or service provider must submit a written report of the incident to the principal within two days.
The principal must inform the parents or guardians of all students involved in the alleged incident and may discuss the availability of counseling and other intervention services.
The principal or principal’s designee must initiate an investigation of the incident within one school day of the report. The school anti-bullying specialist conducts the investigation. The principal may appoint other staff to assist the specialist.
The investigation must be completed as soon as possible, but no later than 10 days after the principal had received the initial written report of the incident. The report of the investigation may be amended by the anti-bullying specialist if new information becomes available.
The superintendent must receive the report of the investigation within two days of its completion. The superintendent may provide intervention services, establish training programs, impose discipline, order counseling, or take other appropriate actions.
The school board must receive the report at its first meeting following the investigation along with information on actions taken to address the incident or incidents.
Parents of student involved in the incident are entitled to information about the investigation and may request a hearing with the school board in its executive session. The board may also hear from the anti-bullying specialist at the hearing. At its next meeting, the board must issue a written decision affirming, rejecting, or modifying the superintendent’s decision. The board’s decision may be appealed to the commissioner of education.
Twice annually, school districts will be required to submit reports on harassment, intimidation, and bullying to the public and to the Department of Education. The department will use the data to assign a grade to schools and to districts. The grade must be posted on the school district website.