Saint Philomena School works to support a culture free of bullying and aligns policies and practices with those expected in the Rhode Island Safe School Act. The Statewide Bullying Policy is promulgated pursuant to the authority set forth in §16-21-34 of the General Laws of Rhode Island. Known as the Safe School Act, the statute recognizes that the bullying of a student creates a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the student's health and negatively affect learning. Bullying undermines the safe learning environment that students need to achieve their full potential. The purpose of the Policy is to ensure a consistent and unified approach to the prohibition of bullying at school.
a. BULLYING means 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 student that:
i. Causes physical or emotional harm to the student or damage to the student's property;
ii. Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property;
iii. Creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or abusive educational environment for the student;
iv. Infringes on the rights of the student to participate in school activities; or
v. Materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
The expression, physical act or gesture may include, but is not limited to, an incident or incidents that may be reasonably perceived as being motivated by characteristics such as: race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or mental, physical, or sensory disability, intellectual ability or by any other distinguishing characteristic.
b. 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, texting or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Forms of cyber-bullying may include, but are not limited to:
i. The creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person;
ii. The knowing impersonation of another person as the author or posted content or messages; or
iii. The distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of materials on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the creation, impersonation, or distribution results in any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (a) to (e) of the definition of bullying.
c. AT SCHOOL means:
i. on school premises,
ii. at any school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises,
iii. on a school-transportation vehicle, iv. at an official school bus stop,
v. using property or equipment provided by the school, or
vi. acts which create a material and substantial disruption of the education process or the orderly operation of the school.
2. SCHOOL CLIMATE
a. Bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation against any person associated with a report of bullying or the investigation thereof is prohibited. School staff will take all reasonable measures to prevent bullying at school. School faculty, administration and staff, at all times, will model courteous behavior to each other, to students, and to school visitors. Abusive or humiliating language or demeanor will not be accepted. Additionally, students and their families are expected to exhibit courteous behavior to all members of the learning community in school, online and at school sponsored events.
3. POLICY OVERSIGHT and RESPONSIBILITY
a. The school administration shall be responsible for the implementation and oversight of this bullying policy at Saint Philomena School. The school principal or vice principal shall provide the governing board of trustees with a summary report of incidents, responses, and any other bullying related issues annually.
4. INFORMATION DISSEMINATION
a. The school administration shall ensure that students, staff, volunteers, and parents/legal guardians are provided information regarding this policy. This information shall include methods of discouraging and preventing this type of behavior, the procedure to file a complaint, and the disciplinary action that may be taken against those who commit acts in violation of this policy. This policy shall be:
i. Distributed annually to students, staff, volunteers, and parents/legal guardians;
ii. Included in the student handbook
a. Process: The victim of bullying, anyone who witnesses an incidence of bullying, and anyone who has credible information that an act of bullying has taken place may file a report of bullying.
b. The individual making the report should complete the Reporting Form and submit it to the vice principal. If a member chooses to make a claim of alleged bullying but does not wish to complete/sign a report, the claim will be considered anonymous. Once a claim of bullying is filed, the vice principal will conduct an investigation. The investigation may consist of the following:
i. Parents /Legal Guardians of the victim of bullying and parents or guardians of the alleged perpetrator of the bullying shall be notified in a timely manner of the Reporting Form and allegation. When there is a reasonable suspicion that a child is either a bully or a victim of bullying, the parents/ legal guardians of the child will be notified by a school official.
ii. Any student or staff member who believes he/she is being bullied should immediately report such circumstances to the staff teacher or administrator.
c. Anonymous Reporting: Reports of bullying or retaliation may be made anonymously, however no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
d. Responsibility of Staff: School staff, including volunteers, shall report all acts of bullying that come to their attention. School staff who fail to report incidents of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary action.
e. Responsibility of Students: Students who observe an act of bullying or who have reasonable grounds to believe that bullying is taking place are obligated to report the bullying to school authorities. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action. The victim of bullying shall, however, not be subject to discipline for failing to report an act of bullying.
f. Prohibition against Retaliation: Retaliation or threats of retaliation in any form designed to intimidate the victim of bullying, those who are witnesses to bullying, or those investigating an incident of bullying shall not be tolerated. Retaliation or threat of retaliation will result in the imposition of discipline in accordance with the school behavior code.
g. False Reporting/Accusations: A school employee, school volunteer or student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying or retaliation will result in disciplinary action taken which may include suspension or termination of enrollment.
h. Reports in Good Faith: A school employee, school volunteer, student, parent/ legal guardian, or caregiver who promptly reports, in good faith, an act of bullying to the appropriate school official designated in the school's policy shall be immune from a cause of action for damages arising from reporting bullying.
a. The school vice principal shall promptly investigate all allegations of bullying, harassment, or intimidation. This process may involve teachers, the school nurse or others employed by the administration for the purpose of the investigation. If the allegation is found to be credible, appropriate disciplinary actions will be imposed.
b. Once a claim of bullying is filed, the vice principal will conduct an investigation that may include but not limited to: witness interviews, review of documentation, interviews with teachers/employees, collecting of written witness statements, notification to the parents of the alleged perpetrator, statements from the alleged perpetrator,interviews with perpetrator, involvement of staff to interview victim and/or perpetrator, involvement of other appropriate investigative support agencies.
c. Police Notification: When bullying involves conduct that violates the law, the police shall be notified.
d. Protection: If a student is the victim of serious or persistent bullying:
i. The school principal or designee will intervene.
ii. The interventions will be developed, if possible, with input from the student, their parent/legal guardian and staff.
iii. The parents/legal guardians of a victim shall also be notified of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation.
7. DISCIPLINARY ACTION
a. The disciplinary actions for violations of the bullying policy shall be determined by the school administration. Disciplinary actions for violations of the bullying policy shall balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. The range of disciplinary actions that may be taken against a perpetrator for bullying, cyberbullying or retaliation shall include one or more of the following, but not limited to:
i. Admonitions and warnings
ii. Parental/Legal Guardian notification and meetings
iii. Detention iv. In-school suspension
v. Loss of school-provided transportation
vi. Loss of the opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities
vii. Loss of the opportunity to participate in school social activities
viii. Loss of the opportunity to participate in school exercises/activities/experiences
ix. Police contact
x. Student placed on behavioral probation for enrollment
xi. Termination of enrollment Saint Philomena School
b. Specific information about discipline imposed on the perpetrator cannot be disclosed to the parents of the victim.
8. SOCIAL SERVICES/COUNSELING
a. Referral to appropriate counseling shall be provided for bullying victims, perpetrators and appropriate family members of said students.
9. OTHER REDRESS
a. This section does not prevent a victim of bullying, cyber-bullying or retaliation from seeking redress under any other available law, either civil or criminal. This section does not create or alter any tort liability.