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Report Bullying

Students and employees in the Ocean Springs School District (OSSD) are protected from bullying or harassing behavior by other students or employees. It is the intent of the Board and the administration to maintain an environment free from bullying and harassing behavior. This complaint procedure provides a process for filing, processing and resolving complaints of such conduct. Adherence to these procedures is mandatory. The failure of any person to follow these procedures will constitute a waiver of the right to pursue a complaint at any level, including review by the OSSD Board of Trustees.

What constitutes bullying?

DEFINITION: Bullying or harassing behavior is any pattern of gestures or written, electronic or verbal communications, or any physical act or any threatening communication, or any act reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived differentiating characteristic that (a) places a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property, or (b) creates or is certain to create a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student's educational performance, opportunities or benefits.

A "hostile environment" means that the victim subjectively views the conduct as bullying or harassing behavior and the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree that it is bullying or harassing behavior. The above conduct constitutes bullying if that conduct interferes with a student's education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school. (HB 263-6)

Bullying or harassing behavior will not be condoned or tolerated when it takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, or on a school bus, or when it takes place off school property when such conduct, in the determination of the school superintendent or principal, renders the offending person’s presence in the classroom a disruption to the educational environment of the school or a detriment to the best interest and welfare of the pupils and teacher of such class as a whole.

OSSD encourages anyone who has witnessed or has reliable information that a student or school employee has been subject to any act of bullying or harassing behavior to report the incident to the appropriate school official. Retaliation or reprisal against any person, including a victim, a witness, or another person, who in good faith provides information concerning an incident of bullying or harassing behavior, is prohibited. (HB 263-B)

The OSSD discipline policies and procedures recognize the fundamental right of every student to take “reasonable actions” as may be necessary to defend himself or herself from an attack by another student who has evidenced menacing or threatening behavior through bullying or harassing. Furthermore, the OSSD defines “reasonable action,” which includes but its not limited to, prompt reporting of the behavior to a teacher, principal, counselor, or other school employee when subjected to bullying or harassing behavior.

Procedures for Processing a Complaint

  1. Any student, school employee or volunteer who feels he/she has been a victim of bullying or harassing behavior, or has witnessed or who has reliable information that a student, school employee or volunteer has been subject to bullying or harassing behavior shall report such conduct to a teacher, principal, counselor or other school official. The report shall be made promptly but no later than five (5) school days after the alleged act or acts occurred.
  2. An initial investigation will be completed by the school official to deem if the allegation is viable. If a proposed resolution appears to be a reasonable solution, the resolution may be presented to all parties involved. If acceptable, the parties will sign a statement of resolution that the issue has been resolved and no further investigation is necessary. If no resolution is agreed upon, a formal investigation will be pursued.
  3. If the complaint is deemed viable and no resolution is agreed upon, the school official shall complete a “Bullying/Harassing Behavior” complaint form which shall include the name of the reporting person, the specific nature and date of the misconduct, the names of the victim or victims of the misconduct, the names of witnesses and other information that would assist in the investigation of the complaint. The report shall be given promptly to the principal or designee who shall institute an immediate investigation. (Complaints against the principal shall be made to the superintendent and complaints against the superintendent shall be made to the BOT.) (HB 263-F)
  4. The complaint shall be investigated promptly.
  5. Parents will be notified of the nature of any complaint involving their student.
  6. The principal or designee will arrange such meetings as may be necessary with all concerned parties after initial receipt of the complaint by the principal or designee. The parties will have an opportunity to submit evidence and a list of witnesses.
  7. All findings related to the complaint will be reduced to writing.
  8. The principal or designee conducting the investigation shall notify the victim and parents as appropriate when the investigation is completed and a decision regarding disciplinary action, as warranted, is determined. (HB 263-C)
  9. If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the principal or designee, he/she may submit a written appeal to the Director of Student Services. Such appeal shall be filed within five (5) working days after receipt of the results of the initial decision. The Director of Student Services will arrange such meetings with the victim and other affected parties as deemed necessary to discuss the appeal. If a proposed resolution appears to be a reasonable solution, the resolution may be presented to all parties involved. If acceptable, the parties will sign a statement of resolution that the issue has been resolved and no further investigation is necessary. If no resolution is agreed upon, a formal investigation will be pursued. The Director of Student Services shall provide a written decision to the victim's appeal within ten (10) working days.
  10. If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the Director of Student Services, he/she may submit a written appeal to the superintendent. Such appeal shall be filed within five (5) working days after receipt of the results of the initial decision. The superintendent will arrange such meetings with the victim and other affected parties as deemed necessary to discuss the appeal. If a proposed resolution appears to be a reasonable solution, the resolution may be presented to all parties involved. If acceptable, the parties will sign a statement of resolution that the issue has been resolved and no further investigation is necessary. If no resolution is agreed upon, a formal investigation will be pursued. The superintendent shall provide a written decision to the victim's appeal within ten (10) working days.
  11. If the victim is not satisfied with the decision of the superintendent, a written appeal may be filed with the BOT. Such appeal shall be filed within five (5) working days after receipt of the decision of the superintendent. The BOT shall, within twenty (20) working days, allow the victim and parents as appropriate to appear before the BOT to present reasons for dissatisfaction with the decision of the superintendent. The BOT shall provide a written decision within seven (7) working days following the victim's appearance before the BOT.
  12. If, after an investigation, a student is found to be a victim of bullying, such student shall not face disciplinary action on the basis of that student's use of "reasonable self-defense was in response to the bullying." (HB 263-G & 2)
  13. If the victim of bullying is a student with disabilities, disciplinary action for the offender shall comply with the requirements of federal law including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 USCS Section 1400 et seq.) (HB 263-H)

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