School System Reports Twenty Three Incidents of Bullying Last Year

August 17, 2014
Dwayne Page
Joey Reeder

Twenty three incidents of bullying were reported in the DeKalb County School System during the 2013-14 year. Eleven of those cases were confirmed according to Attendance Supervisor Joey Reeder.

In compliance with state law and board policy, Reeder updated the DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night on bullying statistics in the school system. " From last year's data we had twenty three reports from people who said they had been bullied. After an investigation only eleven of those were considered to be bullying. We had four bullying cases that involved sex or gender based discrimination. We had one bullying case that involved the use of electronic technology," he said.

Reeder gave credit to school administrators and staff for identifying and reporting cases of bullying. "We have a bullying/harassment policy in compliance with state law. Teachers and school counselors have had information on prevention and strategies to address bullying and harassment when it happens. Our administrators have done a real good job of training on bullying. They did a real good job last year of deciphering what is and is not bullying," said Reeder.

Under the school board's policy, Bullying/Intimidation/Harassment is defined as "An act that substantially interferes with a student's educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, and the act has the effect of:

*Physically harming a student or damaging a student's property;
*Knowingly placing a student or students in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student's property:
*Causing emotional distress to a student or students; or
*Creating a hostile educational environment.

Bullying, intimidation, or harassment may also be unwelcome conduct based on a protected class (race, nationality, origin, color, gender, age, disability, religion) that is severe, pervasive, or persistent and creates a hostile environment.

Cyber-bullying is defined as a form of bullying undertaken through the use of electronic devices. Electronic devices include, but are not limited to, telephones. cellular phones or other wireless telecommunication devices, text messaging, emails, social networking sites, instant messaging, videos, web sites, or fake profiles.

Hazing is defined as an intentional or reckless act by a student or group of students that is directed against any other students that endangers the mental or physical health or safety of the students or that induces or coerces a student to endanger his/her mental or physical health or safety. Coaches and other employees of the school district shall not encourage, permit, condone or tolerate hazing activities.

Hazing does not include customary athletic events or similar contests or competitions and is limited to those actions taken and situations created in connection with initiation into or affiliation with any organization".

Complaints and Investigations:
"Alleged victims of offenses shall report these incidents immediately to a teacher, counselor or building administrator. All school employees are required to report alleged violations of this policy to the principal/designee. All other members of the school community, including students, parents, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy.

While reports may be made anonymously, an individual's need for confidentiality must be balanced with obligations to cooperate with police investigations or legal proceedings, to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a thorough investigation or to take necessary actions to resolve a complaint, and the identity of parties and witnesses may be disclosed in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know.

The principal/designee at each school shall be responsible for investigating and resolving complaints and is responsible for determining whether an alleged act constitutes a violation of this policy, and such act shall be held to violate this policy when it meets one of the following conditions:

*It places the student in reasonable fear of harm for the student's person or property;
*It has a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health;
*It has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's academic performance; or
*It has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

Upon the determination of a violation, the principal/designee shall conduct a prompt, thorough, and complete investigation of each alleged incident. Within the parameters of the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a written report on the investigation will be delivered to the parents of the complainant, parents of the accused students and to the Director of Schools.

Response and Prevention:
School administrators shall consider the nature and circumstances of the incident, the age of the violator, the degree of harm, previous incidences or patterns of behavior, or any other factors, as appropriate to properly respond to each situation.

A substantiated charge against an employee shall result in disciplinary action up to and including termination. A substantiated charge against a student may result in corrective or disciplinary action up to and including suspension.

An employee disciplined for violation of this policy may appeal the decision by contacting the Compliance Officer. Any student disciplined for violation of this policy may appeal the decision in accordance with disciplinary policies and procedures."

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