Statement Against Bullying
Bryan County Schools (BCS) prohibits the bullying of any person, by any means or method. Descriptor JCDAG of the policies of Bryan County Schools states that the district is committed to providing students with a safe, secure, and healthy school environment that allows all students to maximize their learning potential.The Board of Education believes that all students can learn better in a safe school environment. Behavior that infringes on the safety of students will not be tolerated. Bullying, as the term is defined in Georgia law, of a student by another student is strictly prohibited. Such prohibition shall be included in the Student Code of Conduct for all schools within the school system.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is repeated, deliberate or intentional behavior using words or actions, and power-based or intended to cause fear, intimidation or harm. Bullying includes aggressive and hostile behavior that is intentional and involves an imbalance of power between the bully and the bullied and is behavior that is repeated over time rather than an isolated incident.
This behavior may include but is not limited to physical and verbal assaults, nonverbal or emotional threats or intimidation, repeated harassment, social exclusion and isolation, extortion, use of computer or telecommunications to send messages that are embarrassing, slanderous, threatening or intimidating (cyberbullying).
Bullying based on sex, race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, creed, pregnancy, marital or parental status, sexual orientation or physical, mental, emotional or learning disability in its education programs or activities is also prohibited by law and Bryan County Schools board policy.
Bullying Reporting Procedures
The school takes student safety seriously. When students feel that they are being harassed or bullied, it is important that this be reported to the school administration or school counselor. It is very important that students and parents provide the school with as much information as possible. The more complete the information provided, the more successful the school can be in thoroughly investigating and addressing the situation.
1. Bullying: A pattern of behavior when a person repeatedly uses power in an intentional manner, including verbal, physical, or written conduct or intentional electronic communication against one or more students.
2. Cyberbullying: The use of electronic communication to harm or harass others in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.
3. Harassment: Includes actual or perceived negative actions that offend, ridicule, or demean another individual with regard to disability, sex, race, color, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
4. Intimidation: subjecting an individual to intentional action that seriously threatens and induces a sense of fear and/or inferiority.
Bullying is an intentional physical and/or emotional intrusion on a person’s well-being and will not be tolerated at any level. Immediate and reasonably appropriate actions will be taken upon receipt of any report of bullying, regardless of the source, identity of the alleged violator/victim, grade level, previous circumstances, and/or personal beliefs. Therefore, all reports of bullying will be taken seriously.
Once bullying has been reported, school officials will take the following actions:
Harassment and Bullying Complaint forms can be located in the front office or may be obtained from a school administrator or school counselor. Upon receipt of the Harassment and Bullying Complaint form, schools will direct an immediate investigation involving appropriate personnel. The investigation may include interviewing the alleged offender(s) and victim(s), identified witnesses, teacher(s) and staff members and reviewing video surveillance if available. School police, school counselors, school social workers and/or other support staff will be utilized for their expertise as determined by the circumstances of the matter.
At an appropriate time, parents/guardians of the offender and the victim will be notified. If the incident involves an injury or similar situation, appropriate medical attention will be provided and the parent/guardian will be notified immediately.
Upon confirming that bullying has occurred, the offending student will be charged with bullying and given an age-appropriate consequence which shall include, at minimum and without limitation, disciplinary action and/or follow-up with the school counselor as appropriate under the circumstances.
Students in grades six through twelve found to have committed the offense of bullying for the third time in a school year shall be assigned to an alternative school through appropriate due process by disciplinary hearing officers, panels, or tribunals.
Schools will clearly communicate to all parties that retaliation following a report of bullying is strictly prohibited and may result in strong disciplinary action.
4. Follow Up
Follow up is important to the offender and the victim. A planned method to provide after-care and follow up will be discussed. In addition, retaliation will be prohibited.
Upon receiving a report of bullying, the following actions are the minimal requirements, pursuant to Georgia’s bullying law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.4). However, school principals are not limited in performing additional measures as they deem reasonably appropriate. It should be noted that bullying may be witnessed directly by staff or reported by a student, parent or stakeholder by name or anonymously through hotlines such as the Georgia Department of Education’s 1-877-SAY STOP (1-877-729-7867) School Safety Hotline.
“Retaliation” is defined as bullying, harassment or intimidation toward a person in response to previously reported bullying, harassment or intimidation. Under O.C.G.A. § 20-2-751.4, retaliation against any person who reports, is thought to have reported, files a complaint or otherwise participates in an investigation or inquiry is prohibited. Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of local board policy and independent of whether a complaint is substantiated. Any student who knowingly files a false report of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment or intimidation is guilty of such and may be punished under existing disciplinary provisions.
Bullying Statute (O.C.G.A. 20-2-751.4)
(a) As used in this Code section, the term 'bullying' means an act, including an act through the use of electronic communication, that is:
(1) Any willful attempt or threat to inflict injury on another person, when accompanied by an apparent present ability to do so;
(2) Any intentional display of force such as would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm; or
(3) Any intentional written, verbal, or physical act, which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass, or intimidate, that:
(A) Causes another person substantial physical harm within the meaning of Code Section 16-5-23.1 or visible bodily harm as such term is defined in Code Section 16-5-23.1;
(B) Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education;
(C) Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
(D) Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.
The term applies to acts which occur on school property, on school vehicles, at designated school bus stops, or at school related functions or activities or by use of data or software that is accessed through a computer, computer system, computer network, or other electronic technology of a local school system. The term also applies to acts of cyberbullying which occur through the use of electronic communication, whether or not such electronic act originated on school property or with school equipment, if the electronic equipment
1) is directed specifically at students or school personnel,
2) is maliciously intended for the purpose of threatening the safety of those specified or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school, and
3) creates a reasonable fear of harm to the students’ or school personnel’s person or property or has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.
For purposes of this Code Section, electronic communication includes but is not limited to any transfer of signs, signals, writings, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system.
(b) No later than August 1, 2011:
(1) Each local board of education shall adopt a policy that prohibits bullying of a student by another student and shall require such prohibition to be included in the student code of conduct for schools in that school system;
(2) Each local board policy shall require that, upon a finding by the disciplinary hearing officer, panel, or tribunal of school officials provided for in this subpart that a student in grades six through 12 has committed the offense of bullying for the third time in a school year, such student shall be assigned to an alternative school;
(3) Each local board of education shall establish and publish in its local board policy a method to notify the parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a student upon a finding by a school administrator that such student has committed an offense of bullying or is a victim of bullying; and
(4) Each local board of education shall ensure that students and parents of students are notified of the prohibition against bullying, and the penalties for violating the prohibition, by posting such information at each school and by including such information in student and parent handbooks.
(c) No later than January 1, 2011, the Department of Education shall develop a model policy regarding bullying, that may be revised from time to time, and shall post such policy on its website in order to assist local school systems. Such model policy shall include:
(1) A statement prohibiting bullying;
(2) A requirement that any teacher or other school employee who has reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that someone is a target of bullying shall immediately report it to the school principal;
(3) A requirement that each school have a procedure for the school administration to promptly investigate in a timely manner and determine whether bullying has occurred;
(4) An age-appropriate range of consequences for bullying which shall include, at minimum and without limitation, disciplinary action or counseling as appropriate under the circumstances;
(5) A procedure for a teacher or other school employee, student, parent, guardian, or other person who has control or charge of a student, either anonymously or in such person's name, at such person's option, to report or otherwise provide information on bullying activity;
(6) A statement prohibiting retaliation following a report of bullying; and
(7) Provisions consistent with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section.
(d) The Department of Education shall develop and post on its website a list of entities and their contact information which produce anti-bullying training programs and materials deemed appropriate by the department for use in local school systems.
(e) Any person who reports an incident of bullying in good faith shall be immune from civil liability for any damages caused by such reporting.
(f) Nothing in this Code section or in the model policy promulgated by the Department of Education shall be construed to require a local board of education to provide transportation to a student transferred to another school as a result of a bullying incident.
(g) Any school system which is not in compliance with the requirements of subsection (b) of this Code section shall be ineligible to receive state funding pursuant to Code Sections 20-2-161 and 20-2-260.