Saint Agnes Bullying Policy (Reviewed November 2015)
Introduction (from the Diocese of Springfield Policy)
The Diocese of Springfield ("Diocese") and the Catholic Schools Office ("CSO") believe that each Catholic school in the Diocese of Springfield must be aware that its purpose is rooted in the mission of the Church. Each Catholic school, in fulfilling its role within the educational mission of the Church, must share and live out, through Catholic Christian tradition, the message of Jesus Christ and be committed to providing an integrated Catholic educational environment that permeates all aspects of its daily life and operations.
Each child should be challenged to reach his/her full potential, develop a love of learning and learn in an environment that fosters respect and understanding of one another. It is essential that a safe, positive and productive educational environment be established where students can achieve the highest academic standards and where no student shall be subjected to Bullying, Cyber-Bullying or Retaliation. Bullying, Cyber-Bullying or Retaliation or other like disruptive or violent behaviors constitute conduct that disrupts both a student's ability to learn and a school's ability to educate its students in a safe and embracing environment. Pastors, principals, faculty, Staff and volunteers are expected to demand that all students behave appropriately and treat others with civility and respect. Bullying, Cyber-Bullying and Retaliation are not to be tolerated.
Accordingly, Mitchell Rozanski, Bishop of Springfield, (the "Bishop") hereby promulgates this Bullying Prevention Policy (the "Policy") which shall be applicable to all Catholic parish schools and all other Catholic schools over which the Bishop has authority to appoint trustees, directors, governors or officers (each herein sometimes referred to as a "school").
For purposes of this Policy, the following definitions shall apply:
“Aggressor”, means a student who engages in Bullying or Retaliation.
“Bullying” 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:
- causes physical or emotional harm to the Target or damage to the Target's property
- places the Target in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property;
- creates a Hostile Environment at school for the Target;
- infringes on the rights of the Target at school; or
- materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
For the purpose of this Policy, whenever the term "Bullying" is used it is to denote either Bullying or Cyber-Bullying.
“Cyber-Bullying” means 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:
- photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail,
internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.
“Cyber-Bullying” shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of Bullying.
“Cyber-Bullying” 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 the definition of Bullying.
“Hostile Environment” means 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 the student's education.
“Plan”, Bullying prevention and intervention plan established by a school.
“Retaliation” means 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.
“School Grounds” mean property on which a school building or facility is located or property that is owned, leased or used by a school for a school-sponsored activity, function, program, instruction or training.
“Staff” includes, but is not limited to, educators, faculty, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletics coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, and paraprofessionals.
“Target”, a student against whom Bullying or Retaliation has been perpetrated.
Prohibition Against Bullying and Retaliation.
Bullying and Retaliation is prohibited:
- On School Grounds owned, leased or used by a school;
- On property immediately adjacent to School Grounds;
- At any school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off School Grounds;
- At a school bus stop;
- On a school bus or any other vehicle owned, leased or used by the school; or,
- Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by a school;
Bullying is also prohibited at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by a school if the act or acts in question:
- create a Hostile Environment at school for the Target;
- infringe on the rights of the Target at school; or
- materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
All students and staff shall be afforded the same protection regardless of their status under the law.
Retaliation against a person who reports Bullying, provides information during an investigation of Bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about Bullying shall be prohibited.
Annual training on the Plan shall be provided for Staff and, at the discretion of the Principal, for volunteers who have significant contact with students.
Publication and Notice.
At the beginning of each school year, the Principal or his or her designee shall provide notice to the Staff of this Policy and the Plan. Relevant sections of the Plan relating to the duties of Staff shall be included in the school employee handbook.
Annual written notice of the relevant student-related sections of the Plan shall be included in the school handbook provided to students and their parents or guardians, in age-appropriate terms and in languages which are most prevalent among the students, parents or guardians.
The Plan shall be posted on the school's website.
A Parent, Student or member of a Staff shall immediately report any instance of Bullying or Retaliation they have witnessed or become aware of to the Headmaster. Reports of Bullying or Retaliation may be made anonymously; provided, however no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student solely on the basis of an anonymous report. A person who reports Bullying, provides information during an investigation of Bullying or witnesses or has reliable information about an act of Bullying shall be protected from Bullying or Retaliation. A student who knowingly makes a false accusation of Bullying or Retaliation shall be subject to disciplinary action.
Upon receipt of such a report, the Headmaster or his or her designee shall promptly conduct an investigation utilizing (Exhibit B) “Bullying Prevention and Intervention incident Reporting Form”
Minimum Required Actions.
If the Headmaster or his or her designee determines that Bullying or Retaliation has occurred, he/she shall:
- notify the local law enforcement agency if they believe that criminal charges may be pursued against an Aggressor;
- take appropriate disciplinary action;
- notify the parents or guardians of the Aggressor; and
- notify the parents or guardians of the Target and, to the extent consistent with Massachusetts and federal law, notify them of the action taken to prevent any further acts of Bullying or Retaliation.
If the reported incident of Bullying or Retaliation involves students from more than one school district, Catholic school, charter school, non-public school, approved private special education day or residential school, or collaborative school, the Headmaster or his or her designee first informed of the incident shall, subject to Massachusetts and federal law, promptly notify the appropriate administrator of the other school district or school(s) of the incident so that each school district and school may take appropriate action.
If an incident of Bullying or Retaliation occurs on School Grounds and involves a former student under the age of 21 who is no longer enrolled in school, the Headmaster or his or her designee informed of such incident shall contact the local law enforcement agency if he or she has a reasonable basis to do so.
The range of disciplinary actions that may be taken against an Aggressor for Bullying or Retaliation shall balance the need for accountability with the need to teach developmentally appropriate behavior.
Parents or guardians of a Target and an Aggressor shall be notified immediately of the incident(s) and shall also be notified of the action(s) taken to prevent any further acts of Bullying or Retaliation. The Dalton Police shall be notified when criminal charges may be pursued against the Aggressor;
St. Agnes Academy shall provide counseling or referral to appropriate services, including guidance, academic intervention, and protection to students, both alleged Targets and Aggressors, affected by Bullying or Retaliation, as necessary. It is the goal to restore a sense of safety for all students and staff. Counseling or referral to appropriate services for Aggressors and Targets and for appropriate family members of said students may be recommended.
If any Staff member has questions concerning this Policy, he or she is encouraged to contact the Catholic Schools Office or the Office of the General Counsel of the Diocese.
Training and Outreach
From time to time there will be ongoing professional development to build the skills of all Staff members to prevent, identify and respond to Bullying.
Parents shall be informed about the Bullying prevention education in the school and shall include ideas about how parents and guardians can reinforce the curriculum at home and support the school; the dynamics of Bullying; online safety and Cyber-Bullying. (Exhibit E)