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Q:What are the important parts of the old policy?
A: The thing about the bullying policy is that the expectation that it won’t be tolerated. And bullying has a definition. A very specific definition that covers a lot of things, but it’s a very specific definition. and the definition of bullying is that something that occurs multiple times. For example, if two kids get into a fight, that’s not necessarily bullying. But if that fight is brought about because one kid has consistently made fun of another kid then that can become bullying. so the policy has always been for schools to recognize bullying, which is an ongoing form of harassment, intimidation that singles someone out because of a specific characteristic they may have.
Q: What are some of the major changes made to the new policy?
A: There are really two main things to that new law. One is that it allows schools to discipline bullying that occurs outside of school. We’ve always been able to extend jurisdiction outside of school if something impacts the school. Well now that’s been extended to bullying. What we hear from parents or from the student is that, “I did this on Saturday night; it’s none of your business what I do on Saturday night.” The law says, “This is our business, and we can deal with that,” and the reason they do that is because it impacts the school because we know what happens on Saturday night has an impact on Monday morning. The second thing is that all accusations of bullying have to be investigated. Now, we’ve always done that. No one has ever come to us and said some people have been bullied and we’ve ignored it, but the law says you cannot ignore it. So, this extends to bus drivers, cafeteria workers, to anyone. Teachers do not have the option of ignoring it; they can’t say, “That’s none of my business.” They have to report it, and the school has to investigate it. That doesn’t mean necessarily that anything will happen because sometimes there isn’t evidence and sometimes it’s false reported, but it has to be investigated; the school cannot just ignore it.
Q: Why have these changes been made?
A: The law made them, and they were made to strengthen a school’s ability to deal with bullying.