Bullying and harassment of students can create an atmosphere of fear and anxiety for all members of the school community. Bullying can affect the ability of a student to attend school; to learn and progress effectively in school; and to participate in activities inside and outside of school, including traveling to and from school, walking in the corridors, eating in the school cafeteria, playing in the school yard and participating in special or extracurricular activities. Bullying behaviors that are not addressed can lead to serious adverse consequences for students, including academic, attendance or psychological problems. The failure to address bullying behaviors also gives other students the message that it is permissible to engage in negative behaviors.
Prohibition against Bullying and Harassment
Bullying of students occurring in the schools is prohibited by law and will not be tolerated by the Melrose Public Schools. For purposes of this policy, bullying is prohibited on: (1) school grounds; (2) property immediately adjacent to school grounds; (3) at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program, whether on or off school grounds; (4) at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by the district or a school, or (5) through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the school district or a school.
Consistent with state law, bullying is also prohibited both (1) at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related and (2) through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a district or school, if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the victim, infringes on the rights of the victim at school, or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying is defined as the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school. Bullying also includes cyberbullying, which is defined as bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyberbullying shall also include (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying. Cyberbullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying.
Bullying is exhibited by, but is not limited, to, the following types of behavior:
- Physical or emotional aggression against students, including assaults on student property;
- Intimidation or extortion, in any form, including:
- Oral or written threats, including by electronic means;
- Threatening looks or gestures;
- Teasing, name-calling or putdowns;
- Cruel rumors;
- False accusations; and
- Social isolation, such as shunning.
In an effort to prevent bullying whenever possible, Melrose Public Schools will ensure that every staff member receives anti-bullying training. The Melrose Public School curriculum will include instruction of age and developmentally appropriate material covering anti-bullying. Where applicable, student’s Individualized Education Programs should include specific guidelines for obtaining skills in avoiding and responding to bullying. To the extent possible, the Melrose Public Schools will support and encourage additional bullying prevention educational opportunities for parents and other community members. All of these measures will meet or exceed the requirements of applicable state law.
Intervention and Response to Alleged Bullying
The Melrose Public Schools takes allegations of bullying seriously and will respond promptly to complaints and allegations of bullying. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, school officials will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and to impose corrective action, as necessary. A school employee who observes, suspects or becomes aware of an act of bullying is expected to notify the principal immediately. Depending upon the severity of the incident, school officials may implement a student safety plan; separate and supervise the students involved; provide staff support for students; and/or develop a supervision plan with parents. In addition, school officials may require the offender(s) to work with school personnel on better behavior; recommend that the offender(s) obtain counseling or other therapeutic services; impose disciplinary action, up to and including detention, suspension, involuntary transfer to another district school, expulsion; and/or report incidents to law enforcement officials. Bystanders are encouraged to speak to an adult in the school to further reduce the effect of bullying. The Superintendent along with the Administrative Team, will develop administrative guidelines and procedures relative to the implementation of this policy. See the individual school Handbooks for further detail.