Complaints of bullying in our public and private schools are on the rise. School officials and administrators have failed to treat these reports seriously.
State of Washington laws and school policies against bullying are seldomly enforced.
Bullying is not just limited to children. Teachers, bus drivers, secretaries and office administrators can also be victims of vicious and insensitive treatment by others which rises to the level of actionable bullying.
Schools need to take these claims seriously. When schools do not take these reports seriously, lawsuits can result from students or employees being hurt or discriminated against by others.
Because schools have failed to listen to students and employees who have been subject to ongoing bullying, the Washington state legislature in 2002 enacted laws to prohibit bullying and harassment in the school setting:
RCW 28A.300.285 :
Harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policies and procedures — Model policy and procedure — Training materials — Posting on web site — Rules — Advisory committee.
(1) By August 1, 2011, each school district shall adopt or amend if necessary a policy and procedure that at a minimum incorporates the revised model policy and procedure provided under subsection (4) of this section that prohibits the harassment, intimidation, or bullying of any student. It is the responsibility of each school district to share this policy with parents or guardians, students, volunteers, and school employees in accordance with rules adopted by the superintendent of public instruction. Each school district shall designate one person in the district as the primary contact regarding the antiharassment, intimidation, or bullying policy. The primary contact shall receive copies of all formal and informal complaints, have responsibility for assuring the implementation of the policy and procedure, and serve as the primary contact on the policy and procedures between the school district, the office of the education ombudsman, and the office of the superintendent of public instruction.
(2) “Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” means any intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by any characteristic in RCW 9A.36.080(3), or other distinguishing characteristics, when the intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act:
(a) Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property; or
(b) Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education; or
(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.
Nothing in this section requires the affected student to actually possess a characteristic that is a basis for the harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(3) The policy and procedure should be adopted or amended through a process that includes representation of parents or guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and community representatives. It is recommended that each such policy emphasize positive character traits and values, including the importance of civil and respectful speech and conduct, and the responsibility of students to comply with the district’s policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(4)(a) By August 1, 2010, the superintendent of public instruction, in consultation with representatives of parents, school personnel, the office of the education ombudsman, the Washington state school directors’ association, and other interested parties, shall provide to the education committees of the legislature a revised and updated model harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policy and procedure. The superintendent of public instruction shall publish on its web site, with a link to the safety center web page, the revised and updated model harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policy and procedure, along with training and instructional materials on the components that shall be included in any district policy and procedure. The superintendent shall adopt rules regarding school districts’ communication of the policy and procedure to parents, students, employees, and volunteers.
(b) The office of the superintendent of public instruction has the authority to update with new technologies access to this information in the safety center, to the extent resources are made available.
(c) Each school district shall by August 15, 2011, provide to the superintendent of public instruction a brief summary of its policies, procedures, programs, partnerships, vendors, and instructional and training materials to be posted on the school safety center web site, and shall also provide the superintendent with a link to the school district’s web site for further information. The district’s primary contact for bullying and harassment issues shall annually by August 15th verify posted information and links and notify the school safety center of any updates or changes.
(5) The Washington state school directors’ association, with the assistance of the office of the superintendent of public instruction, shall convene an advisory committee to develop a model policy prohibiting acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are conducted via electronic means by a student while on school grounds and during the school day. The policy shall include a requirement that materials meant to educate parents and students about the seriousness of cyberbullying be disseminated to parents or made available on the school district’s web site. The school directors’ association and the advisory committee shall develop sample materials for school districts to disseminate, which shall also include information on responsible and safe internet use as well as what options are available if a student is being bullied via electronic means, including but not limited to, reporting threats to local police and when to involve school officials, the internet service provider, or phone service provider. The school directors’ association shall submit the model policy and sample materials, along with a recommendation for local adoption, to the governor and the legislature and shall post the model policy and sample materials on its web site by January 1, 2008. Each school district board of directors shall establish its own policy by August 1, 2008.
(6) As used in this section, “electronic” or “electronic means” means any communication where there is the transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic, or other similar means. [2010 c 239 § 2; 2007 c 407 § 1; 2002 c 207 § 2.]
Recently I represented two women school bus drivers who were bullied and harassed in the course of their work at a school district after their complaints of bullying, harassment and discrimination were ignored. The case settled for $425,000 shortly before trial.
For any further questions, CALL Rob Kornfeld for a FREE consulation (800) 282-4878 or email Rob Rob@Kornfeldlaw.com. Visit us at our web site www.Kornfeldlaw.com . We are happy to talk to you with the utmost in confidentiality about your case or that of a friend or loved one.