By Floyd Ingram/Chickasaw Journal
HOUSTON – The schoolyard bully’s days are numbered.
The Houston School Board held its first reading of a new policy to deal with bullying at its meeting last week and the new rules are set to be implemented in the next few weeks.
The state has mandated all of Mississippi’s 149 school districts have a bullying policy and procedure in place by the end of this year as required in a bill passed by the 2010 Legislature.
“The Houston School District does not condone and will not tolerate bullying or harassing behavior,” the district said in reading its new policy. “The Houston School District will make every reasonable effort to ensure no student or school employee is subjected to bullying or harassing behavior by other school employees or students.
The policy defines bullying or harassing behavior as placing “a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm…” and “creates a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits.”
School employees are required to report bullying “to the appropriate school official.” That chain of response starts with staff and teachers and works its way up to principals, school administrators and ultimately the school board.
Once notified of misconduct the district has five days to complete a bullying/harassing behavior complaint form. The principal and superintendent are required to get a copy of this report and conduct an investigation.
Complaints against a principal will be made to the superintendent and complaints against a superintendent will go before the school board.
If the complaint involves two students, parents will be notified and a meeting will be arranged by the district to resolve the problem. The parents of both the victim and alleged bully will have an opportunity to submit evidence and a list of witnesses.
If the parent is not satisfied with the decision of the school principal, they may submit an appeal to the superintendent. If the victim is not satisfied with the superintendent’s decision, they may appeal to the school board. The school board’s decision will be final.
The policy also applies to students on school buses and at school sanctioned events.
Bullying also applies to texting and comments made on social media by one student about another student that prompts fear or “impairs a students educational performance, opportunities or benefits.”
Consequences of the policy were not listed.