Hopeful Journeys Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan is required under M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan’s format parallels the draft Behavioral Health and Public Schools Framework.
Leadership at Hopeful Journeys School at all levels plays a critical role in developing and implementing Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans (“the Plan”) in the context of other whole school and community efforts to promote positive school climate. Hopeful Journeys School policy makers and staff have a primary role in teaching students to be civil to one another and promoting understanding of and respect for diversity and difference. Policy makers and the administration are responsible for setting priorities and for staying up-to-date with current research on ways to prevent and effectively respond to bullying. It is also the responsibility of these leaders to involve representatives from the greater school and local community in developing and implementing the Plan.
As required by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, the Plan was developed in consultation with teachers, school staff, professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies, students, parents, and guardians. There was notice and a public comment period before the Plan was adopted by Hopeful Journeys School board of directors.
The Executive Director and/or designee will be responsible for:
1) receiving reports on bullying
2) collecting and analyzing building- and/or school-wide data on bullying to assess the present problem and to measure improved outcomes
3) creating a process for recording and tracking incident reports, and for accessing information related to targets and aggressors
4) planning for the ongoing professional development that is required by the law
5) planning supports that respond to the needs of targets and aggressors
6) choosing and implementing the curricula that the school will use
7) developing new or revising current policies and protocols under the Plan, including an Internet safety policy, and designating key staff to be in charge of implementation of them
8) amending student and staff handbooks and codes of conduct
9) leading the parent or family engagement efforts and drafting parent information materials
10) reviewing and updating the Plan each year, or more frequently.
Hopeful Journeys School expects that all members of the school community will treat each other in a civil manner and with respect for differences. We are committed to providing all students with a safe learning environment that is free from bullying and cyberbullying. This commitment is an integral part of our comprehensive efforts to promote learning, and to prevent and eliminate all forms of bullying and other harmful and disruptive behavior that can impede the learning process.
We understand that members of certain student groups, such as students with disabilities, students who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and homeless students may be more vulnerable to becoming targets of bullying, harassment, or teasing. The school will take specific steps to create a safe, supportive environment for vulnerable populations in the school community, and provide all students with the skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
We will not tolerate any unlawful or disruptive behavior, including any form of bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation, in our school buildings, on school grounds, or in school-related activities. We will investigate promptly all reports and complaints of bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation, and take prompt action to end that behavior and restore the target’s sense of safety. We will support this commitment in all aspects of our school community, including curricula, instructional programs, staff development, extracurricular activities, and parent or guardian involvement.
The Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (“Plan”) is a comprehensive approach to addressing bullying and cyberbullying, and the school is committed to working with students, staff, families, law enforcement agencies, and the community to prevent issues of violence. In consultation with these constituencies, we have established this Plan for preventing, intervening, and responding to incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation.
(c.)Training and Professional Development
This Plan reflects the requirements under M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O to provide ongoing professional development for all staff, including but not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, and paraprofessionals. This Plan states the content and frequency of staff training and ongoing professional development as determined by the school’s needs, and list other topics to be included in these staff programs. The identified additional areas of training are based on needs and concerns identified by school staff.
1. Annual staff training on the Plan- Annual training for all school staff on the Plan will include staff duties under the Plan, an overview of the steps that the director or designee will follow upon receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation, and an overview of the bullying prevention curricula to be offered at all grades throughout the school. Staff members hired after the start of the school year are required to participate in school-based training during the school year in which they are hired, unless they can demonstrate participation in an acceptable and comparable program within the last two years. The annual staff training will occur prior to September 30 each school year.
2. Ongoing professional development- The goal of the Plan’s professional development is to establish a common understanding of tools necessary for staff to create a school climate that promotes safety, civil communication, and respect for differences. Professional development will build the skills of staff members to prevent, identify, and respond to bullying. As required by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, the content of the Hopeful Journeys School professional development will be informed by research and will include information on
(i) developmentally and age appropriate strategies to prevent bullying;
(ii) developmentally and age appropriate strategies for immediate, effective interventions to stop bullying incidents;
(iii) information regarding the complex interaction and power differential that can take place between and among an aggressor, target, and witnesses to the bullying;
(iv) research findings on bullying, including information about specific categories of students who have been shown to be particularly at risk for bullying in the school environment;
(v) information on the incidence and nature of cyberbullying; and
(vi) internet safety issues as they relate to cyberbullying.
Professional development will also address ways to prevent and respond to bullying or retaliation for students with disabilities that must be considered when developing students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). This will include a particular focus on the needs of students with autism or students whose disability affects social skills development.
Additional areas identified by the school for professional development include:
- Building social skills
- Behavior Intervention Plan follow through and development
- Building better communication skills
3.written notice to staff- Hopeful Journeys school will provide all staff with an annual written notice of the Plan by publishing information about it, including sections related to staff duties, in the school or personnel handbook and the code of conduct.
(d.)Access to Resources and Services
A key aspect of promoting positive school climate in this Plan is ensuring that the underlying emotional needs of targets, aggressors, families, and others are addressed. The Plan describes the strategies for providing supports and services necessary to meet these needs. In order to enhance Hopeful Journeys School’s capacity to prevent, intervene early, and respond effectively to bullying, available services reflect an understanding of the dynamics of bullying and provide approaches to address the needs of targets and aggressors. The Plan includes strategies for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services for aggressors, targets, and family members of those students. These locally established strategies are reflected in the Hopeful Journeys School Plan.
1. Identifying resources.
Some of Hopeful Journeys School resources include:
School Behavior Analysts
Educational Director & Special Education Teachers
Extended Day Programs
Other Hopeful Journeys School outside resources include:
Clinical health care agencies
Beverly Police Department
Department of Children Services
2. Students with disabilities-As required by M.G.L. c. 71B, § 3, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, when the IEP Team determines the student has a disability that affects social skills development or the student may participate in or is vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing because of his/her disability, the Team will consider what should be included in the IEP to develop the student's skills and proficiencies to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
3. Referral to outside services-Hopeful Journeys School will establish a referral protocol for referring students and families to outside services. The protocol will help students and families access appropriate and timely services. Referrals will comply with relevant laws and policies
(e.)Academic and Non-Academic Activities
Hopeful Journeys School will provide age-appropriate instruction on bullying prevention in each grade that will be incorporated into our school.
1. Specific bullying prevention approaches- Bullying prevention curricula will be informed by current research which, among other things, emphasizes the following approaches:
- using scripts and role plays to develop skills;
- empowering students to take action by knowing what to do when they witness other students engaged in acts of bullying or retaliation, including seeking adult assistance;
- helping students understand the dynamics of bullying and cyberbullying, including the underlying power imbalance;
- emphasizing cybersafety, including safe and appropriate use of electronic communication technologies;
- enhancing students’ skills for engaging in healthy relationships and respectful communications; and
- engaging students in a safe, supportive school environment that is respectful of diversity and difference.
2. General teaching approaches that support bullying prevention efforts. The following approaches are integral to establishing a safe and supportive school environment. These underscore the importance of our bullying intervention and prevention initiatives:
- setting clear expectations for students and establishing school and classroom routines;
- creating safe school and classroom environments for all students, including for students with disabilities, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender students, and homeless students;
- using appropriate and positive responses and reinforcement, even when students require discipline;
- using positive behavioral supports;
- encouraging adults to develop positive relationships with students;
- modeling, teaching, and rewarding pro-social, healthy, and respectful behaviors;
- using positive approaches to behavioral health, including collaborative problem-solving, conflict resolution training, teamwork, and positive behavioral supports that aid in social and emotional development;
- using the Internet safely; and
- supporting students’ interest and participation in non-academic and extracurricular activities, particularly in their areas of strength.
(f.) Policies and Procedures for Reporting and Responding to Bullying and Retaliation
1. Reporting bullying or retaliation- Reports of bullying or retaliation may be made by staff, students, parents or guardians, or others, and may be oral or written. Oral reports made by or to a staff member shall be recorded in writing. Hopeful Journeys School staff member is required to report immediately to the Executive Director any instance of bullying or retaliation the staff member becomes aware of or witnesses. Reports made by students, parents or guardians, or other individuals who are not school staff members, may be made anonymously. The school will make a variety of reporting resources available to the school community including an Incident Reporting Form, a dedicated mailing address, and an email address.
Use of an Incident Reporting Form is not required as a condition of making a report. Hopeful Journeys School will: 1) include a copy of the Incident Reporting Form in the beginning of the year packets for students and parents or guardians; 2) make it available in the school’s main office, the school nurse's office, and other locations determined by the director or designee; and 3) post it on the school’s website. The Incident Reporting Form will be made available in the most prevalent language(s) of origin of students and parents or guardians.
At the beginning of each school year, the Hopeful Journeys School will provide the school community, including administrators, staff, students, and parents or guardians, with written notice of its policies for reporting acts of bullying and retaliation. A description of the reporting procedures and resources, including the name and contact information of the director or designee, will be incorporated in student and staff handbooks, on the school website, and in information about the Plan that is made available to parents or guardians.
a. Reporting by Staff-A staff member will report immediately to the director when he/she witnesses or becomes aware of conduct that may be bullying or retaliation. The requirement to report to the director does not limit the authority of the staff member to respond to behavioral or disciplinary incidents consistent with school and procedures for behavior management and discipline. In fact, if the staff member witnesses the incident, he/she will immediately call the student on that behavior in such a manner as to not escalate the situation.
b. Reporting by Students, Parents or Guardians, and Others- Hopeful Journeys school expects students, parents or guardians, and others who witness or become aware of an instance of bullying or retaliation involving a student to report it to the Executive Director or designee. Reports may be made anonymously, but no disciplinary action will be taken against an alleged aggressor solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Students, parents or guardians, and others may request assistance from a staff member to complete a written report. Students will be provided practical, safe, private and age-appropriate ways to report and discuss an incident of bullying with a staff member, or with the Executive Director or designee.
2. Responding to a report of bullying or retaliation-
a. Safety: Before fully investigating the allegations of bullying or retaliation, the director will take steps to assess the need to restore a sense of safety to the alleged target and/or to protect the alleged target from possible further incidents. Responses to promote safety may include, but not be limited to, creating a personal safety plan; pre-determining seating arrangements for the target and/or the aggressor in the classroom, at lunch, or on the bus; identifying a staff member who will act as a “safe person” for the target; and altering the aggressor’s schedule and access to the target. The director will take additional steps to promote safety during the course of and after the investigation, as necessary.
The director will implement appropriate strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a student who has reported bullying or retaliation, a student who has witnessed bullying or retaliation, a student who provides information during an investigation, or a student who has reliable information about a reported act of bullying or retaliation.
3. Obligations to Notify Others
a. Notice to parents or guardians- Upon determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the director will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor of this, and of the procedures for responding to it. There may be circumstances in which the director contacts parents or guardians prior to any investigation. Notice will be consistent with state regulations at 603 CMR 49.00.
b. Notice to Another School or District- If the reported incident involves students from more than one school district, charter school, non-public school, approved private special education day or residential school, or collaborative school, the director first informed of the incident will promptly notify by telephone the director of the other school(s) of the incident so that each school may take appropriate action. All communications will be in accordance with state and federal privacy laws and regulations, and 603 CMR 49.00.
c. Notice to Law Enforcement- At any point after receiving a report of bullying or retaliation, including after an investigation, if the director has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor, the director will notify the local law enforcement agency. Notice will be consistent with the requirements of 603 CMR 49.00 and locally established agreements with the local law enforcement agency. Also, if an incident occurs on school grounds and involves a former student under the age of 21 who is no longer enrolled in school, the director shall contact the local law enforcement agency if he or she has a reasonable basis to believe that criminal charges may be pursued against the aggressor.
In making this determination, the Executive Director will, consistent with the Plan and with applicable school or district policies and procedures, consult with the school resource officer, if any, and other individuals the director deems appropriate.
4. Investigation. The director will investigate promptly all reports of bullying or retaliation and, in doing so, will consider all available information known, including the nature of the allegation(s) and the ages of the students involved.
During the investigation the director will, among other things, interview students, staff, witnesses, parents or guardians, and others as necessary. The director (or whoever is conducting the investigation) will remind the alleged aggressor, target, and witnesses that retaliation is strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action.
Interviews may be conducted by the director or designee, other staff members as determined by the director or designee, as appropriate. To the extent practicable, and given his/her obligation to investigate and address the matter, the director will maintain confidentiality during the investigative process. The director will maintain a written record of the investigation.
Procedures for investigating reports of bullying and retaliation will be consistent with school or district policies and procedures for investigations. If necessary, the director will consult with legal counsel about the investigation. (Align this with school or district procedures.)
5. Determinations- The director will make a determination based upon all of the facts and circumstances. If, after investigation, bullying or retaliation is substantiated, the director will take steps reasonably calculated to prevent recurrence and to ensure that the target is not restricted in participating in school or in benefiting from school activities. The director will: 1) determine what remedial action is required, if any, and 2) determine what responsive actions and/or disciplinary action is necessary.
Depending upon the circumstances, the director may choose to consult with the students’ teacher(s) and/or school counselor, and the target’s or aggressor’s parents or guardians, to identify any underlying social or emotional issue(s) that may have contributed to the bullying behavior and to assess the level of need for additional social skills development.
The director will promptly notify the parents or guardians of the target and the aggressor about the results of the investigation and, if bullying or retaliation is found, what action is being taken to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation. All notice to parents must comply with applicable state and federal privacy laws and regulations. Because of the legal requirements regarding the confidentiality of student records, the director cannot report specific information to the target’s parent or guardian about the disciplinary action taken unless it involves a “stay away” order or other directive that the target must be aware of in order to report violations.
6. Responses to Bullying.
a. Teaching Appropriate Behavior Through Skills-building-Upon the director determining that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the law requires that the school or district use a range of responses that balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(d)(v). Skill-building approaches that the director may consider include:
▪ offering individualized skill-building sessions based on the school’s/district’s anti-bullying curricula;
▪ providing relevant educational activities for individual students or groups of students, in consultation with guidance counselors and other appropriate school personnel;
▪ implementing a range of academic and nonacademic positive behavioral supports to help students understand pro-social ways to achieve their goals;
▪ meeting with parents and guardians to engage parental support and to reinforce the anti-bullying curricula and social skills building activities at home;
▪ adopting behavioral plans to include a focus on developing specific social skills; and
▪ making a referral for evaluation.
b. Taking Disciplinary Action- If the director decides that disciplinary action is appropriate, the disciplinary action will be determined on the basis of facts found by the director or designee, including the nature of the conduct, the age of the student(s) involved, and the need to balance accountability with the teaching of appropriate behavior. Discipline will be consistent with the Plan and with the school’s or district’s code of conduct.
Discipline procedures for students with disabilities are governed by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA), which should be read in cooperation with state laws regarding student discipline.
If the director determines that a student knowingly made a false allegation of bullying or retaliation, that student may be subject to disciplinary action.
c. Promoting Safety for the Target and Others-The director will consider what adjustments, if any, are needed in the school environment to enhance the target's sense of safety and that of others as well. One strategy that the director may use is to increase adult supervision at transition times and in locations where bullying is known to have occurred or is likely to occur.
Within a reasonable period of time following the determination and the ordering of remedial and/or disciplinary action, the director will contact the target to determine whether there has been a recurrence of the prohibited conduct and whether additional supportive measures are needed. If so, the director will work with appropriate school staff to implement them immediately.
(g.) Collaboration with Families
1. Parent education and resources. Hopeful Journeys school will offer education programs for parents and guardians that are focused on the parental components of the anti-bullying curricula and any social competency curricula used by the district or school. The programs will be offered in collaboration with the Parent Advisory Group.
2. Notification requirements. Each year the Hopeful Journeys school will inform parents or guardians of enrolled students about the anti-bullying curricula that are being used. This notice will include information about the dynamics of bullying, including cyberbullying and online safety. The school will send parents written notice each year about the student-related sections of the Plan and the school's or Internet safety policy. All notices and information made available to parents or guardians will be in hard copy and electronic formats, and will be available in the language(s) most prevalent among parents or guardians. The school will post the Plan and related information on its website.
(h.) Prohibition Against Bullying and Retaliation
Acts of bullying, which include cyberbullying, are prohibited:
on school grounds and property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function, or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased, or used by a school; or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased, or used by a school district or school, and
(ii) at a location, activity, function, or program that is not school-related through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by a school district or school, if the acts create a hostile environment at school for the target or witnesses, infringe on their rights at school, or materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is also prohibited.
As stated in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, nothing in this Plan requires the district or school to staff any non-school related activities, functions, or programs.
(The following definitions are copied directly from M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, as noted below.)
Aggressor is a student who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation.
Bullying, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is 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 target that:
causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target’s property;
places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her property;
creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Cyberbullying, is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyberbullying.
Hostile environment, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of a student’s education.
Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment directed against a student who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.
Staff includes, but is not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or paraprofessionals.
Target is a student against whom bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.
(j.) Relationship to Other Laws
Consistent with state and federal laws, and the policies of the Hopeful Journeys School, no person shall be discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town or in obtaining the advantages, privilege and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Nothing in the Plan prevents Hopeful Journeys School from taking action to remediate discrimination or harassment based on a person’s membership in a legally protected category under local, state, or federal law, or school or district policies.
In addition, nothing in the Plan is designed or intended to limit the authority of the school or district to take disciplinary action or other action under M.G.L. c. 71, §§ 37H or 37H½, other applicable laws, or local school or district policies in response to violent, harmful, or disruptive behavior, regardless of whether the Plan covers the behavior.