Policy Statement

A safe and civil environment in school is necessary for pupils to learn and achieve high academic standards. Cyber-bullying by a pupil in the district directed toward another school district pupil or school staff member is conduct that disrupts both a pupil’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate its pupils in a safe environment.

The Board of Education prohibits acts of cyber-bullying by school district pupils through the use of any school district owned, operated, and supervised technologies. The Building Principal or designee must immediately report allegations of cyber-bullying to law enforcement authorities and notify the Superintendent of this report.

Definitions

“Cyber-bullying” is the use of electronic information and communication devices, to include but not be limited to, e-mail messages, instant messaging, text messaging, cellular telephone communications, internet blogs, internet chat rooms, internet postings, and defamatory websites, that:

1. Deliberately threatens, harasses, intimidates an individual or group of individuals; or

2. Places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to the individual or damage to the individual’s property; or

3. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

“School district owned, operated, or supervised technologies” is any computer, networking system, electronic equipment, or any other equipment or device that may be used by a person to communicate to another which is owned, leased, operated, or under the control or supervision of the school district and/or school district staff.

Reporting Procedure and Investigation

Any pupil or school staff member who believes he/she has or is being subjected to cyber-bullying, as well as any person who has reason to believe a pupil or school staff member has knowledge or reason to believe another pupil or school staff member is being subjected to or has been subjected to cyber-bullying shall immediately make a report to the Building Principal or designee.

The Building Principal or designee must immediately investigate all reports of such conduct. If the investigation results indicate cyber-bullying was not committed, the Building Principal or designee will inform the affected parties of the investigation results. In the event the investigation results indicate cyber-bullying was committed by a school district pupil on school grounds and/or using school district technologies, the pupil will be subjected to appropriate discipline.

In the event the investigation results indicate cyber-bullying was committed by a school district pupil using non-school district technologies away from school grounds, the Building Principal or designee may report the investigation results to local law enforcement. In addition, school authorities have the right to impose a consequence on a pupil for conduct away from school grounds, including on a school bus or at a school-sponsored function pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.6. This authority shall be exercised only when it is reasonably necessary for the pupil’s physical or emotional safety, security, and well-being or for reasons relating to the safety, security, and well-being of other pupils, staff, on school grounds, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:25-2 and 18A:37-2. This authority shall be exercised only when the conduct, which is subject of the proposed consequence, materially and substantially interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school. Consequences shall be handled in accordance with Policy and Regulation 5600, N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.1, and as appropriate, in accordance with N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.2, 6A:16-7.3, or 6A:16-7.5.

Any investigation regarding an allegation of cyber-bullying will provide al parties the appropriate due process rights, including the right to appeal the determination of the Building Principal or designee as outlined in Regulation 5512.

Discipline and Consequences

Some acts of cyber-bullying may be isolated incidents requiring the school district to respond appropriately to the individual committing the acts. Other acts may be so serious or part of a larger pattern of cyber-bullying that require a response either at the classroom, school building, or school district level or by law enforcement officials.

Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for pupils who commit an act of cyber-bullying range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, as permitted under N.J.S.A. 18A:37-1, Discipline of Pupils. In addition, cyber-bullying using district technology violates Policy 2361 – Acceptable Use of Computer Network/Computer and Resources and subjects the pupil to discipline and sanctions of Policy and Regulation 2361.

Prevention and intervention techniques to prevent cyber-bullying and to support and protect victims shall include appropriate strategies and activities as determined by the Building Principal or designee.

Reprisal or Retaliation Prohibited

The school district prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of cyber-bullying. The consequence and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation shall be determined by the Building Principal or designee after consideration of the nature and circumstances of the act, in accordance with case law, Federal and State statutes and regulations, and district policies and procedures.

Consequences for False Accusation

Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a pupil found to have falsely accused another of an act of cyber-bullying range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion, as permitted under N.J.S.A. 18A:37-1, Discipline of Pupils.

Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a school employee found to have falsely accused another of an act of cyber-bullying shall be disciplined in accordance with district policies and procedures.

Policy Publication

This Policy will be disseminated annually to all school staff, pupils, and parent(s) or legal guardian(s).

Issued: January 2007