Lancaster School District Bullying Policy
Lancaster School District's Bullying Policy indicates that "the Board of Trustees recognizes the harmful effects of bullying on student learning and school attendance and desires to provide safe school environments that protect students from physical and emotional harm. District employees shall establish student safety as a high priority and shall not tolerate bullying of any student. No individual or group shall, through physical, written, verbal, or other means, harass, sexually harass, threaten, intimidate, retaliate, cyberbully, cause bodily injury to, or commit hate violence against any student or school personnel."
According to stopbullying.gov, "bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time." The Lancaster School District's Bullying Policy addresses prevention, intervention, reporting and filing complaints, investigation and resolution of complaints, and discipline related to bullying in our schools.
The Lancaster School District Bullying Policy states, "To the extent possible, district schools shall focus on the prevention of bullying by establishing clear rules for student conduct and implementing strategies to promote a positive, collaborative school climate. Students shall be informed, through student handbooks and other appropriate means, of district and school rules related to bullying, mechanisms available for reporting incidents or threats, and the consequences for engaging in bullying.
As appropriate, the district shall provide students with instruction, in the classroom or other educational settings, that promotes effective communication and conflict resolution skills, social skills, character/values education, respect for cultural and individual differences, self-esteem development, assertiveness skills, and appropriate online behavior.
School staff shall receive related professional development, including information about early warning signs of harassing/intimidating behaviors and effective response.
Based on an assessment of bullying incidents at school, the Superintendent or designee may increase supervision and security in areas where bullying most often occurs, such as classrooms, playgrounds, hallways, restrooms, and cafeterias."
Here are some preventative steps Lancaster School District is taking to promote bully-free schools:
Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is implemented at all the schools in the Lancaster School District. PBIS includes many different components that assist in preventing bullying and ensuring that the school environment is safe, respectful and caring. Those components include teaching social skills to students, creating positive school and classroom cultures, continuous active supervision of student behavior and academic progress, positively rewarding students for demonstrating social successes, and adult modeling of the social skills we expect our students to exhibit.
A Social Contract, which is a component of Capturing Kids' Hearts, is designed to let everyone in a classroom know what behavior is acceptable and what is not. It is an agreement of behavior that helps promote a self-managing classroom environment. The Social Contract also challenges students to take responsibility for their actions.
School Counselors provide classroom lessons to teach students to recognize bullying behavior and how to address bullying if they are a victim or a bystander. This is accomplished through classroom discussions, using books with stories that are about bullying, role playing, and activities.
Second Step social-emotional learning curriculum is used from TK-8th grade in all the schools within the Lancaster School District. Second Step teaches empathy, how to communicate clearly, how to maintain relationships, and make responsible decisions. It also provides a Bullying Prevention component that explicitly teaches students how to recognize, report, and refuse bullying, in addition to the power of a bystander.
The 7th and 8th grade Leadership students at Piute Middle School present an anti-bullying lesson to 3rd-5th grade students at the elementary schools throughout Lancaster School District every year. The lessons teach students the difference between bullying and annoying behavior as well as how to assertively respond to a bully. The presentations emphasize when students can handle bullying situations themselves and when they should seek assistance from an adult.
Bullying Prevention month is recognized in the month of November throughout Lancaster School District. Schools conduct a variety of activities throughout the month to increase bullying prevention awareness. Some activities include individual and school-wide pledges, anti-bullying poster contests, spirit week focused around bullying prevention, quotes read in daily announcements, and anti-bully-themed books read in class.
According to the Lancaster School District Bullying Policy, "Students are encouraged to notify school staff when they are being bullied or suspect that another student is being victimized. In addition, the Superintendent or designee shall develop means for students to report threats or incidents confidentially and anonymously.
School staff who witness an act of bullying shall immediately intervene to stop the incident when it is safe to do so. (Education Code 234.1)
When appropriate, based on the severity or pervasiveness of the bullying, the Superintendent or designee shall notify the parents/guardians of victims and perpetrators and may contact law enforcement.
The Superintendent, principal, or principal's designee may refer a victim, witness, perpetrator, or other student affected by an act of bullying to a school counselor, school psychologist, social worker, child welfare attendance personnel, school nurse, or other school support service personnel for case management, counseling, and/or participation in a restorative justice program as appropriate. (Education Code 48900.9)"
Administrators or School Counselors may use a "Student Resolution" contract with the students involved in the bullying behavior that requires the students to stay away from each other and notify an adult immediately if the contract is broken.
School Counselors may provide a bullying prevention lesson to a specific classroom if there are several students who have had bullying incidents within a close time period. The lessons will focus on developing empathy for others, how bystanders can respond appropriately, as well as ways victims of bullying can seek help when needed. Victims and perpetrators of bullying can also receive individual counseling.
Reporting and Filing of Complaints
The Lancaster School District Bullying Policy indicates, "Any student, parent/guardian, or other individual who believes that a student has been subjected to bullying or who has witnessed bullying may report the incident to a teacher, the principal, or any other available school employee. Within one business day of receiving such a report, a staff member shall notify the principal of the report, whether or not a uniform complaint is filed. In addition, any school employee who observes an incident of bullying involving a student shall, within one business day, report his/her observation to the principal whether or not the alleged victim files a complaint.
When the circumstances involve cyber bullying, individuals with information about the activity shall be encouraged to save and print any electronic or digital messages that they feel constitute cyber bullying and to notify a teacher, the principal, or other employee so that the matter may be investigated. When a student uses a social networking site or service to bully or harass another student, the Superintendent or designee may file a request with the networking site or service to suspend the privileges of the student and to have the material removed.
When a report of bullying is submitted, the principal shall inform the student or parent/guardian of the right to file a formal written complaint in accordance with AR 1312.3. The student who is the alleged victim of the bullying shall be given an opportunity to describe the incident, identify witnesses who may have relevant information, and provide other evidence of bullying."
Students are encouraged to seek help from an adult on campus for a situation they perceive to be a bullying incident. Intervention is not possible without school staff having knowledge of the situation. If students don't tell someone at school, parents are asked to inform a teacher or administrator. Students are afraid of being labeled as "a snitch," so it is helpful for parents and school staff to explain that when personal safety is involved, telling on someone is okay.
Investigation and Resolution of Complaints
The Bullying Policy states, "Any complaint of bullying shall be investigated and, if determined to be discriminatory, resolved in accordance with law and the district's uniform complaint procedures specified in AR 1312.3.
If, during the investigation, it is determined that a complaint is about nondiscriminatory bullying, the principal or designee shall inform the complainant and shall take all necessary actions to resolve the complaint."
The Bullying Policy says, "Corrective actions for a student who commits an act of bullying of any type may include counseling, behavioral intervention and education, and, if the behavior is severe or pervasive as defined in Education Code 48900, may include suspension or expulsion in accordance with district policies and regulations."
Students who engage in bullying behavior may receive instruction in small groups to reinforce lessons taught in the Second Step Bullying Prevention curriculum. Topics may include identifying other's feelings, understanding perspectives, showing compassion, making friends, emotion management, class/school rules, cyber bulling, sexual harassment, and/or labels, stereotypes and prejudice.
Victims of bullying behaviors may receive instruction in small groups to reinforce lessons taught in the Second Step Bullying Prevention curriculum, which may include topics such as solving problems, seeking help, resisting revenge, handling put-downs, and/or recognizing, reporting and refusing bullying.