I.h.Dignity for All Students (DASA)
Peru Central School District is committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality for all. Discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying, are detrimental to student learning and achievement and these behaviors interfere with the mission of the District to educate its students and provide a safe, healthy environment in which to learn and grow.
In accordance with the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), the District condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events, whether on or off of school property. The District also prohibits discrimination, harassment, hazing or bullying that takes place at locations outside of school grounds, including cyberbullying, which creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats intimidation or abuse might reach school property.
Bullying, under the amended Dignity for All Students Act, has the same meaning as harassment (see below).
Cyberbullying is defined as harassment or bullying through any form of electronic communication. In order to be actionable under this policy, cyberbullying that occurs off campus must create or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, threats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property.
Discrimination is the act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of the group, class or category to which that person belongs.
Hazing is any act whether physical, mental, emotional, or psychological, which subjects another person, voluntarily, or involuntarily, to anything that may abuse, mistreat, degrade humiliate, harass, or intimidate the person, or which may in any fashion compromise the inherent dignity of the person. In addition, any requirements by a member which compels another member to participate in any activity which is against school policy or state/federal law will be defined as hazing.
The creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by threats, intimidation or abuse, including cyberbully, that (a) has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical wellbeing; (b) reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety; (d) occurs off school property and creates or would foreseeably create a risk of substantial disruption within the school environment, where it is foreseeable that the conduct, treats, intimidation or abuse might reach school property.
Discrimination or harassment within the meaning of this policy shall include a single severe incident or multiple incidents that are pervasive in nature that creates a hostile environment or reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety.
The discriminating behavior or harassing behavior may be based on any characteristic, including but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived:
- National origin;
- Ethnic group;
- Religious practice;
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender (including gender identity and expression).
For the purpose of this definition the term “threats, intimidation or abuse” shall include verbal and non-verbal actions.
The school setting provides an opportunity to teach children, and emphasize among staff, that cooperation with and respect for others is a key District value. A program geared to prevention is designed to not only decrease incidents of bullying but to help students build more supportive relationships with one another by integrating the bullying prevention program into classroom instruction. To this end, the District has establish ed a Positive School Environment Team (“PSET”) for each District school building. The PSET will consist of one (1) team teacher leader; two (2) teachers; one (1) psychologist and/or counselor; one (1) clerical staff member (a member of the CSEA bargaining Unit); and two (2) parents. The members of the PSET will be listed on the District’s website. The PSET will be responsible for identifying social patterns of harassment, bullying and discrimination and for developing programs and initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and sensitivity and helping employees prevent and respond to harassment, bullying and/or discrimination.
Designation and Role of Dignity Act Coordinator (“DAC”)
The Board of Education will annually designate at its annual organizational meeting at least one staff member for each building (usually the building principal), who has been trained in human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity and expression), and sex. In addition, the Board shall appoint a district-wide coordinator. The Dignity Act Coordinator (“DAC”) is accountable for implementation of this policy and for coordinating and enforcing this policy.
Intervention by adults and bystanders is an important step in preventing escalation and resolving issues at the earliest stages. Intervention will emphasize education and skill-building, and may involve remediation. Remedial responses to bullying and harassment include measures designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior and protect the target. Remediation may be targeted to the individual(s) involved in the bullying behavior or systemic approaches which are targeted to the school or district as a whole.
In addition, intervention will focus upon the safety of the target. Staff is expected, when aware of bullying, to either refer the student to designated resources for assistance, or to intervene in accordance with District policy. The Dignity Act Coordinators will be listed on the District’s website.
Training will be reflected in the District’s annual professional development plan, new teacher orientation, and will be considered in the budget process. The DAC, administrative employees and other staff, such as school counselors, social workers, and school psychologists who have specific responsibilities for investigating and/or complaints of bullying, shall receive yearly training to support implementation of this policy, regulation and on related legal developments.
It is District’s policy to respect the privacy to the fullest extent possible, of all parties and witnesses to bullying. To the extent possible, the District will not release the details of a complaint or the identity of the complainant or the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed to any third parties who do not need to know such information. However, because an individual’s desire for confidentiality must be balanced with the District’s legal obligation to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, and/or to take necessary action to resolve the complaint, the District retains the right to disclose the identity of parties and witnesses to complaints in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know. The staff member responsible for investigating complaints will discuss confidentiality standards and concerts with all complainants.
Reporting and Investigation
The District cannot effectively address bullying if incidents are not reported. Students, parents whose children have been bullied or other students who observe bullying behavior are encouraged and expected to make a verbal and/or written complaint to any school personnel in accordance with the training and guidelines provided.
In accordance with State law, there shall be a duty for all school personnel to report any incidents of student-to-student and staff-to-student bullying that they observe or of which they are made aware to their building principal, the DAC or other administrator who supervises their employment, who will refer the information to appropriate district staff for investigation within one school day and to fill out the District reporting form within two school days. A district employee may be deemed to have permitted unlawful discrimination or harassment if he/she fails to report an observed incident, whether or not the target complains. If a staff person is unsure of the reporting procedure, he/she is expected to inquire about how to proceed by speaking with his/her supervisor.
At all times, complaints will be documented, tracked and handled in accordance with the regulations and procedures accompanying this policy. Where the nature of the bullying or harassment also warrants investigation under another District Policy that addresses wrongful discriminatory practices (e.g. Title VI CRA, Title IX ESEA, Section 504 RA/Title II ADA, Disability Discrimination), there shall be coordinated investigation. The building principal will prepare a quarterly report for the Superintendent based on complaints filed.
An equitable and thorough investigation will be carried out by the building principal or the Building DASA Coordinator. If either of the parties disagrees with the results of the investigation, they can appeal the findings to the Superintendent of Schools, In the event the complaint involves the Superintendent of Schools, the appeal of the complaint shall be filed with the Board of Education for its review and decision. Verified bullying incidents that meet the criteria established by the state will be included in the statewide reporting system when applicable; in accordance with law and regulation.
If the Building Principal or the Building DASA Coordinator who conducted the investigation believes that any harassment, bullying or discrimination constitutes a crime, he or she will immediately report the incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency and immediately notify the Superintendent of Schools and submit a written report to him or her within one day.
The Board will receive the annual VADIR report, as well as any other state-required report relevant to bullying and/or school climate, for each building and for the district as whole. Based on the review of the data, the Board may consider further action, including but not limited to modification of this policy and additional training.