A Watch-dog Organization - Advocating for Bullied Children
& Reporting on State Anti Bullying Laws
 
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Because of the addition of Vermont's Harassment Law (below) and the accountability provision for notification of parents - Vermont is graded  an A-

Vermont

A-

Tuesday May 18th - The Governor signs HB H.629

   
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John Halligan, who helped get Vermont's law passed looks on as Vermont's Governor signs HB H.629.   Notice the round halo dots in these pictures.  Interesting to think about what these could be.

Check out John's website, in honor of his son Ryan, for the whole story about the new Vermont law.  http://www.RyanPatrickHalligan.com

TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
The Committee on Education, to which was referred House Bill H.629, entitled “AN ACT RELATING TO BULLYING PREVENTION POLICIES” 

Respectfully report that they have met and considered the same and recommend that the bill be amended by striking all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
Sec. 1.  16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(32) is added to read:
(32)  “Bullying” means any overt act or combination of acts directed against a student by another student or group of students and which:
(A)  is repeated over time;
(B)  is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and
(C)  occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity.
Sec. 2.  16 V.S.A. § 1161a(a)(6) is amended to read:
(a)  Each public and each approved independent school shall adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for responding to student misbehavior.  To the extent appropriate, the plan shall promote the positive development of youth. (“close” # 10)  The plan shall include:
* * *
(6)  a description of behaviors on and off school grounds which constitute misconduct, including harassment, bullying, and hazing, particularly those behaviors which may be grounds for expulsion.  The plan shall include a description of misconduct as listed in subdivisions 11(a)(26)(A)-(C) and (32) of this title which, although serious, does not rise to the level of harassment or bullying as that term is those terms are defined therein; and
* * *
Sec. 3.  UPDATE OF MODEL SCHOOL PLAN ON STUDENT DISCIPLINE TO INCLUDE BULLYING PREVENTION; COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION; REPORT
(a)  By January 1, 2005, the commissioner of education shall update and distribute to all superintendents, school boards, and principals a model school plan on student discipline, as required by Sec. 15(a) of No. 113 of the Acts of the 1999 Adj. Sess. (2000), for use in addressing bullying in schools.  The model plan shall:

(1)  state that bullying, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(32) of Title 16, is a form of dangerous and disrespectful behavior that will not be permitted or tolerated;
(2)  enable students to report anonymously to teachers and school administrators acts of bullying;
(3)  enable parents or guardians of students to file written reports of suspected bullying;
(4)  require teachers and other school staff who witness acts of bullying or receive student reports of bullying to notify school administrators;
(5)  require school administrators to investigate any written reports filed and to review any anonymous reports;
(6)  include an intervention strategy  for school staff to deal with bullying;
(7)  include the prohibition against bullying in the student or school handbook and otherwise make students aware of the prohibition against bullying, the penalties therefor, and the procedures for reporting bullying;
(8)  require the school to notify the parent or guardian of a student who commits a verified act of bullying of the response of the school staff and consequences that may result from further acts of bullying; and
(9)  to the extent permitted under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-380) and as amended, require the school to notify the parent or guardian of a student who is a victim of bullying of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying; and
(10)  require the school to collect data on the number of reported incidents of bullying and the number of incidents that have been verified and to make such data available to the commissioner and to the public.
(b)  On or before January 15, 2007, the commissioner of education shall report to the senate and house committees on education on implementation of this section.  The report shall include pertinent data such as incidences of bullying gathered by school districts.
==================================

Synopsis: This 1994 Vermont Stats, Act 162, S. 313  Requires school boards to develop, adopt and make available to students and parents, policies prohibiting harassment of students in school. Unlawful harassment is defined as verbal or physical conduct based on race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation or disability that has the purpose or effect of interfering with a student's educational performance or that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.  Requires anti-harassment policies to include procedures for reporting and investigating complaints, consequences and remedial action for students who commit harassment, a statement prohibiting retaliation for reporting and procedures for educating students, staff and parents about the policy.

NO. 162. AN ACT RELATING TO HARASSMENT POLICIES IN SCHOOLS.  (S.313)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE

This act is intended to implement the provisions of 9 V.S.A. chapter 139 as they affect schools as places of public accommodation and is not intended to impose additional or higher standards than those expressed in such legislation. The legislature finds that unlawful harassment against students can be a severe problem that inflicts harm on its victims and the entire educational community. Therefore, it is the purpose of this act to protect students by defining unlawful harassment as a form of discrimination which withholds from or denies to a student the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of the school, and is therefore prohibited by law, in order to facilitate prevention and action regarding complaints of unlawful harassment.

Sec. 2. 16 V.S.A. § 11(a)(26) is added to read:

(26) "Harassment" means unlawful harassment which constitutes a form of discrimination. It means verbal or physical conduct based on a student's race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation or disability and which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a student's educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. Sexual harassment is also a form of unlawful harassment and means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

(A) Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student's education.

(B) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as a component of the basis for decisions affecting that student.

(C) The conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with a student's educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment.

Sec. 3. 16 V.S.A. § 166(e) is added to read:

(e) The board of trustees of an independent school operating in Vermont shall adopt harassment policies, establish procedures for dealing with harassment of students and provide notice of these as provided in section 565 of this title for public schools, except that the board shall follow its own procedures for adopting policy.

Sec. 4. 16 V.S.A. § 565 is added to read:

§ 565. HARASSMENT POLICY

(a) Each school board shall develop, adopt and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title a harassment policy which includes:
(1) A statement prohibiting unlawful harassment of a student.
(2) The definition of harassment pursuant to subdivision 11(a)(26) of this title.
(3) Consequences and appropriate remedial action for staff or students who commit harassment.
(b) Each school district shall establish rules setting forth procedures for dealing with harassment of students. The rules shall include:
(1) Procedures for reporting harassment of students, including annual designation of two or more people within the institution to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people's availability.
(2) A procedure for publicizing the availability of the Vermont human rights commission and the federal Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and other appropriate state and federal agencies to receive complaints of harassment.
(3) A statement that acts of retaliation for reporting of harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of harassment is unlawful pursuant to subdivision 4503(a)(5) of Title 9.
(c) The school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this section to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication of the school district that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for the school. The board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to effectively inform students and staff about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment. The harassment policies and procedures shall be implemented by August 1, 1995.
(d) For purposes of this section, staff means teachers, support staff, administrators, agents of the school, board members and unpaid volunteers.

Sec. 5. 16 V.S.A. § 2182 is added to read:

§ 2182. HARASSMENT POLICY

The board of trustees of the Vermont state colleges shall adopt a policy which establishes that harassment as defined in section 11(a)(26) of this title is a form of unlawful discrimination and therefore prohibited. The board shall also require the establishment of procedures for the handling of complaints of discriminatory harassment and the initiation of educational programs designed to prevent such conduct. The policies and procedures shall be in effect by January 1, 1996.

Sec. 6. 16 V.S.A. § 2284 is added to read:

§ 2284. HARASSMENT POLICY

The board of trustees shall adopt a policy which establishes that harassment as defined in section 11(a)(26) of this title is a form of unlawful discrimination and therefore prohibited. The board shall also require the establishment of procedures for the handling of complaints of discriminatory harassment and the initiation of educational programs designed to prevent such conduct. The policies and procedures shall be in effect by January 1, 1996.

Sec. 7. MODEL POLICY ON HARASSMENT

(a) The Commissioner of Education in collaboration with the Governor's Commission on Women and the Human Rights Commission shall develop a model or models that educational institutions may use as they adopt and establish harassment policies and procedures. The model or models shall include the definition of harassment on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation or disability; examples of harassment; consequences and appropriate remedial action for staff or students found guilty of harassment; and procedures for reporting harassment of students, including reporting to persons or agencies both within and outside the school involved.
(b) The Commissioner shall complete the model or models by January 1995 and shall distribute them to all Vermont public and independent schools.
(c) The Commissioner shall also develop a list of potential training and funding sources that educational institutions may use to educate staff and students about harassment.

Approved: May 26, 1994
 



http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/chapters.cfm?Title=16
 

Chapter 1: Administration Generally
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/sections.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001

16 V.S.A. § 11. Classifications and definitions
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001&Section=00011

(30) “Hazing” means any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with an educational institution; and which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of a student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in the above acts. Hazing may occur on or off the campus of an educational institution. Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

(1) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

(2) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.
 

16 V.S.A. § 140a. Definitions
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001&Section=00140A

16 V.S.A. § 140b. Unlawful conduct
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001&Section=00140B

16 V.S.A. § 140c. Civil penalty; judicial bureau; waiver penalty
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001&Section=00140C

16 V.S.A. § 140d. Criminal prosecution and civil action
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=001&Section=00140D
 

Chapter 3: State Board Of Education
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/sections.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=003

16 V.S.A. § 165. Standards of quality for public schools; equal educational opportunities
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=003&Section=00165

§ 165. STANDARDS OF QUALITY FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS; EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

(a) In order to carry out Vermont's policy that all Vermont children will be afforded educational opportunities which are substantially equal in quality, each Vermont public school, including each technical center, shall meet the following school quality standards:

(1) The school shall, through a process including parents, teachers, students and community members, develop, implement, and annually update a comprehensive action plan to improve student performance within the school. The plan shall include goals and objectives for improved student learning and educational strategies and activities to achieve their goals. The plan shall also address the effectiveness of efforts made since the previous action plan to ensure the school maintains a safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environment which is free from harassment, hazing and bullying. The school shall assess student performance under the plan using a method or methods of assessment developed under subdivision 164(9) of this title.

(8) The school maintains a safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environment, which is free from hazing, harassment and bullying, and based on sound instructional and classroom management practices and clear discipline policies that are consistently and effectively enforced.

(e) If the commissioner determines at any time that the failure of a school to meet the school quality standards listed in subsection (a) of this section is severe or pervasive, potentially results in physical or emotional harm to students or significant deprivation of equal education opportunities, and the school has either unreasonably refused to remedy the problem or its efforts have proved ineffective, he or she may recommend to the state board one or more of the actions listed in subsection (b) of this section. The state board shall then follow the procedure of subsection (c) of this section.

16 V.S.A. § 166. Approved and recognized independent schools
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=003&Section=00166

(v) the school will meet such state and federal laws and regulations concerning its physical facilities and health and safety matters as are applicable to recognized independent schools.

(e) The board of trustees of an independent school operating in Vermont shall adopt harassment and hazing prevention policies, establish procedures for dealing with harassment and hazing of students and provide notice of these. The provisions of section 565 of this title for public schools shall apply to this subsection, except that the board shall follow its own procedures for adopting policy.
 

Chapter 9: School Districts
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/sections.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=009
 

16 V.S.A. § 565. Harassment and hazing prevention policies
http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/fullsection.cfm?Title=16&Chapter=009&Section=00565

§ 565. HARASSMENT AND HAZING PREVENTION POLICIES

(a) It is the policy of the state of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school.

(b) Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment and hazing prevention policies which shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the commissioner. In this section, the definitions of educational institution, organization, pledging, and student shall be the same as those in section 140a of this title.

(1) The harassment prevention policy shall include:

(A) A statement prohibiting harassment of a student.

(B) The definition of harassment pursuant to subdivision 11(a)(26) of this title.

(C) Consequences and appropriate remedial action for staff or students who commit harassment.

(D) A procedure that directs students and staff how to report violations and file complaints.

(E) A procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints.

(F) A description of how the board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing and responding to harassment.

(2) The hazing prevention policy shall include:

(A) A statement that hazing, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title, is prohibited.

(B) A procedure that directs students and staff how to report violations and file complaints.

(C) A procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints.

(D) Circumstances under which hazing may be reported to a law enforcement agency.

(E) Appropriate penalties or sanctions, or both, for organizations which or individuals who engage in hazing, and revocation or suspension of an organization’s permission to operate or exist within the institution’s purview, if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones hazing.

(F) A description of how the board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing and responding to hazing.

(c) Each school district shall establish rules setting forth procedures for dealing with harassment and hazing of students which include:

(1) Annual designation of two or more people within the institution to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people’s availability.

(2) A procedure for publicizing the availability of the Vermont human rights commission and the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and other appropriate state and federal agencies to receive complaints of harassment.

(3) A statement that acts of retaliation for reporting of harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of harassment is unlawful pursuant to subdivision 4503(a)(5) of Title 9.

(d) Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this section to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment and hazing. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication of the school district that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for the school. The board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to effectively inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, and hazing.

(e) The commissioner shall develop and, from time to time, update model harassment and hazing prevention policies.

(Added 1993, No. 162 (Adj. Sess.), § 4; amended 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)

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