Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

Glen Urquhart School

Beverly Farms, MA

Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan


Contents

I            Overview

II            Definitions

III            Training and Professional Development

IV            Prohibition Against Bullying and Retaliation

V            Policies and Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Bullying and Retaliation

VI            Collaboration with Families

I. Overview

The Glen Urquhart School mission statement declares, among other things, that, “At Glen Urquhart School we encourage children to respect all people and value their differences.”  It is in this spirit that the “Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan” is established.  Our priorities are the following:

  • We expect all members of the GUS school community to treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences.
  • We are committed to providing all students with a safe learning environment that is free from bullying and cyber-bullying.  This is consistent with the school’s One Rule: “No student has the right to interfere with the learning or the well-being of another student or with the purpose of an activity.”
  • We will take specific steps to create a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable populations of the school community, including students with disabilities, and students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.
  • We will provide all students with age-appropriate skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
  • We will not tolerate unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation, on school grounds or in any school related activities.
  • We will investigate promptly all reports and complaints of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation, and take prompt action to end that behavior and restore the target’s sense of safety.  We will support this commitment in all aspects of our school community, including curricula, instructional programs, staff development, extracurricular activities, and parent or guardian involvement.
  • Glen Urquhart School is committed to working with students, staff, families, law enforcement agencies, and the community to prevent any form of bullying.  The Head of School is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the plan.

II.   Definitions

  • Aggressor is a student who engages in bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation.
  • Bullying, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is 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 target that:

o   causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;

o   places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property;

o   creates a hostile environment at school for the target;

o   infringes on the rights of the target at school; or

o   materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.

  • Cyber-bullying is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as

telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyber-bullying.

  • Hostile environment, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of a student’s education.
  • Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.
  • Staff includes, but is not limited to, teachers, administrators, counselors, school nurses, buildings and grounds workers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or any person not employed directly by Glen Urquhart School who teaches or leads any student activity, including after-school programs.
  • Target is a student against whom bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.

III.   Training and Professional Development

Annual Staff Training on the Plan:  Annual training for all school staff on the plan will include staff duties under the plan, an overview of the steps that the Head of School or designee will follow upon receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation, and an overview of the bullying prevention curricula to be offered at all grades. Staff members hired after the start of the school year are required to participate in school-based training during the school year in which they are hired, unless they can demonstrate participation in an acceptable and comparable program within the last two years.

Ongoing Professional Development: The goal of professional development is to establish

a common understanding of the tools necessary for the staff to create a school climate that promotes safety, civil communication, and respect for differences. Professional development will build the skills of staff members to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying.  The content of professional development will be informed by research and will include information on:

o   age-appropriate strategies to prevent bullying;

o   age-appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents;

o   information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place between and among an aggressor, target, and witnesses to the bullying;

o   research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment;

o   information on the incidence and nature of cyber-bullying; and

o   Internet safety issues as they relate to cyber-bullying.

Additional areas identified for professional development may include:

o   promoting and modeling the use of respectful language;

o   fostering an understanding of and respect for diversity and difference;

o   building relationships and communicating with families;

o   constructively managing classroom behaviors;

o   using positive behavioral intervention strategies;

o   applying constructive disciplinary practices;

o   teaching students skills including positive communication, anger management, and empathy for others;

o   engaging students in school or classroom planning and decision-making; and

o   maintaining a safe and caring classroom for all students.

Written Notice to Staff: Glen Urquhart School will provide all staff with an annual written

notice of the plan by including it in the GUS Personnel Handbook.

IV.   Prohibition Against Bullying and Retaliation

Acts of bullying, which include cyber-bullying, are prohibited:

  • on Glen Urquhart School grounds and property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school sponsored or school-related activity, function, or program whether on or off school grounds, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased, or used by Glen Urquhart School; or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased, or used by Glen Urquhart School, and
  • at a location, activity, function, or program that is not school-related through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by Glen Urquhart School, or through verbal or physical acts, if the acts create a hostile environment at school for the target or witnesses, infringe on their rights at school, or materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of the school.

Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is also prohibited.

V.   Policies and Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Bullying and Retaliation

Reporting

A report of bullying or retaliation may be made by staff, students, parents, or others, and may be oral or written.   Oral reports made by or to a staff member must be recorded in writing.  The staff member is required to report immediately to one of three people: the Head of School, the Director of the Upper School, or the Director of the Lower School.  Reports made by students, parents, or any other individuals who are not employed by Glen Urquhart School may be made anonymously.  An Incident Reporting Form will be available on the school’s website, where it can be downloaded, filled out, and mailed to the school.  Individuals may also leave a message in the voicemail box of one of the above individuals, or may send an email.

Reporting by Staff: A teacher or staff member must report immediately to one of the three people named above when he/she witnesses or becomes aware of conduct that may be bullying or retaliation.  The requirement to report does not limit the authority of the teacher or staff member to respond to behavioral or disciplinary incidents in a way that is consistent with school policies and procedures for behavior management and discipline.

Reporting by Students, Parents, and Others: Glen Urquhart School expects that students, parents, and others who witness or become aware of an instance of bullying or retaliation involving a GUS student to report it to the Head of School, the Director of the Upper School, or the Director of the Lower School.  Reports may be made anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report.  Students will be provided with practical, safe, private, and age-appropriate ways to report and discuss an incident of bullying with a teacher, staff member, or administrator.

Responding

Safety: Before fully investigating the allegations of bullying or retaliation, the Head of School or his designee will assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Responses to promote safety may include, but not be limited to, creating a personal safety plan; pre-determining seating arrangements for the target and/or the aggressor in the classroom, at lunch, or on a field trip; identifying a teacher or administrator who will act as a “safe person” for the target; and altering the aggressor’s access to the target. The Head of School or his designee will take additional steps to promote safety during the course of and after the investigation, as necessary.

The Head of School or his designee will implement appropriate strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a student who has reported bullying or retaliation, a student who has witnessed bullying or retaliation, a student who provides information during an investigation, or a student who has reliable information about a reported act of bullying or retaliation.

Obligations to Notify Others:

  • Notice to Parents or Guardians: Upon determining that bullying or retaliation has

occurred, the Head of School or his designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor of this, and of the procedures for responding to it.  There may be circumstances in which the Head of School or his designee contacts parents or guardians prior to any investigation.

  • Notice to Law Enforcement: At any point after receiving a report of bullying or

retaliation, including after an investigation, if the Head of School or his designee has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the

aggressor, the Head of School will notify the local law enforcement agency. Notice will be consistent with the requirements of 603 CMR 49.00 and locally established

agreements with the local law enforcement agency. Also, if an incident occurs

on school grounds and involves a former student under the age of 21 who is no

longer enrolled in school, the Head of School or his designee shall contact the local law enforcement agency if he or she has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal

charges may be pursued against the aggressor.  In making this determination, the Head of School or his designee may consult with other individuals the Head of School or his designee deems appropriate.

Investigation

The Head of School or his designee will investigate promptly all reports of bullying or

retaliation and, in doing so, will consider all available information known, including the nature of the allegation(s) and the ages of the students involved.

During the investigation the Head of School or his designee will, among other things, interview students, staff, witnesses, parents or guardians, and others as necessary. The Head of School or his designee (or whoever is conducting the investigation) will remind the alleged aggressor, target, and witnesses that retaliation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action.

Interviews may be conducted by the Head of School, the Director of the Upper School, the Director of the Lower School, or other staff members as determined by the Head of School or his designee, and in consultation with outside consultants, as appropriate. To the extent practicable, and given his/her obligation to investigate and address the matter, the Head of School or his designee will maintain confidentiality during the investigative process. The Head of School or his designee will maintain a written record of the investigation.

Procedures for investigating reports of bullying and retaliation will be consistent with Glen Urquhart School policies and procedures for investigations. If necessary, the Head of School or his designee will consult with legal counsel about the investigation.

Determinations

The Head of School or his designee will make a determination based upon all of the

facts and circumstances. If, after investigation, bullying or retaliation is substantiated, the

Head of School or his designee will take steps reasonably calculated to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target is not restricted in participating in school or in benefiting from school activities. The Head of School or his designee will: 1) determine what remedial action is required, if any, and 2) determine what responsive actions and/or disciplinary action is necessary.

Depending upon the circumstances, the Head of School or his designee may choose to consult with the students’ teacher(s) and/or school counselor, and the target’s or aggressor’s parents or guardians, to identify any underlying social or emotional issue(s) that may have contributed to the bullying behavior and to assess the level of need for additional social skills development.

The Head of School or his designee will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor about the results of the investigation and, if bullying or retaliation is found, what action is being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. All notice to parents must comply with applicable state and federal privacy laws and regulations. Because of the legal requirements regarding the confidentiality of student records, the Head of School or his designee cannot report specific information to the target’s parent or guardian about the disciplinary action taken unless it involves a “stay away” order or other directive that the target must be aware of in order to report violations.

Responses to Bullying

Teaching Appropriate Behavior Through Skills-building: Upon the Head of School or his designee determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the law requires that the school use a range of responses that balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(d)(v).   Skillbuilding

approaches that the Head of School or his designee may consider include:

  • offering individualized skill-building sessions based on the school’s anti-bullying curricula;
  • providing relevant educational activities for individual students or groups of students, in
  • consultation with guidance counselors and other appropriate school personnel;
  • implementing a range of academic and nonacademic positive behavioral supports to help students understand pro-social ways to achieve their goals;
  • meeting with parents and guardians to engage parental support and to reinforce the anti-bullying curricula and social skills building activities at home;
  • adopting behavioral plans to include a focus on developing specific social skills; and
  • making a referral for evaluation.

Taking Disciplinary Action: If the Head of School or his designee decides that disciplinary action is appropriate, the disciplinary action will be determined on the basis of facts found by the Head of School or his designee, including the nature of the conduct, the age of the student(s) involved, and the need to balance accountability with the teaching of appropriate behavior. Discipline will be consistent with the Plan and with Glen Urquhart School’s code of conduct.

Discipline procedures for students with disabilities are governed by the federal Individuals

with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), which should be read in cooperation

with state laws regarding student discipline.

If the Head of School or his designee determines that a student knowingly made a false allegation of bullying or retaliation, that student may be subject to disciplinary action.

Promoting Safety for the Target and Others: The Head of School or his designee will consider what adjustments, if any, are needed in the school environment to enhance the target’s sense of safety and that of others as well. One strategy that the Head of School or his designee may use is to increase adult supervision at transition times and in locations where bullying is known to have occurred or is likely to occur.  Within a reasonable period of time following the determination and the ordering of remedial and/or disciplinary action, the Head of School or his designee will contact the target to determine whether there has been a recurrence of the prohibited conduct and whether additional supportive measures are needed. If so, the Head of School or his designee will work with appropriate school staff to implement them immediately.

VI.  Collaboration with Families of Glen Urquhart School

Publication of the Plan: This “Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan” will be published on the school’s web site (gus.org).  Parents and others are encouraged to review the plan and to make appropriate suggestions for improvement to the Head of School, the Director of the Upper School, or the Director of the Lower School.  Suggestions sent anonymously will not be considered.

Parent Education and Resources: The school will offer education programs for parents and guardians that are focused on the parental components of the anti-bullying curricula and other social competency curricula used by the school, including Open Circle for grades K-5 and Developmental Designs for grades 6-8.  These programs will be presented at parent nights, meetings of the Parents’ Association, and forums presented by the Head of School.

Notification Requirements: Each year Glen Urquhart School will inform parents and guardians of all students about the anti-bullying curricula that are being used.  This notice will include information about the dynamics of bullying, including cyber-bullying and online safety.  The plan will be available on the school’s website throughout the year.