The School Committee is committed to providing a safe, positive and productive educational environment where students can achieve the highest academic standards. No student shall be subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying.
“Bullying” as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 370 is the repeated use by one or more students or staff 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;hostile o places the target in reasonable fear of harm to themselves, or of damage to their property; o 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.
“Cyber-bullying” as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 370 means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a:
• photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.
Bullying and cyber-bullying may occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of the home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the full cooperation and assistance of parents/guardians and families are expected.
For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used it is to denote either bullying, or cyber-bullying.
Bullying is prohibited:
• On school grounds;
• On property immediately adjacent to school grounds;
• At school-sponsored or school-related activities;
• At functions or programs whether on or off school grounds;
• At school bus stops;
• On school buses or other vehicles owned, leased or used by the HPS District; or, o Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the District;
Bullying and cyber-bullying are prohibited at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the District if the act or acts in question:
• create a hostile environment at school for the target;
• infringe on the rights of the target at school; and/or
• materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
Hingham Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
The Superintendent and/or designee shall oversee the development of a prevention and intervention plan, in consultation with all District stakeholders, which may include teachers, staff, professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies, students, parents/guardians, consistent with the requirements of this policy, as well as state and federal laws. The bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be reviewed and updated at least biennially and posted on the District website.
The Principal is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the bullying prevention and implementation plan within their school.
As required by M.G.L. c. 71B section 3, whenever the evaluation of the Individualized Education Program team indicates that the child has a disability that affects social skills development or that the child is vulnerable to bullying, harassment or teasing because of the child’s disability, the Individualized Education Program shall address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment or teasing. Neither a skill deficit nor the existence of an IEP or 504 plan will be used as either a justification or bullying or as a rationale for reduced consequences for aggressors.
Students, who believe that they are a target of bullying, observe an act of bullying, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are obligated to report incidents to a member of the school staff. The target shall, however, not be subject to discipline for failing to report bullying.
Each school shall have a means for anonymous reporting by students of incidents of bullying. An anonymous reporting form shall be posted on the District website. No formal disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary action.
Parents/guardians, or members of the community, are encouraged to report an incident of bullying as soon as possible.
Staff shall immediately report any instance of bullying they have witnessed or become aware of to the Principal or designee.
The Principal or designee, upon receipt of a viable report, shall promptly contact the parents/guardians of a student who has been the alleged target or alleged perpetrator of bullying. The actions being taken to prevent further acts of bullying shall be discussed.
The Principal or designee shall promptly investigate the report of bullying, using a Bullying/Cyber-bullying Report Form which may include interviewing the alleged target, alleged perpetrator, staff, students and/or witnesses.
Staff shall assess an alleged target´s needs for protection and create and implement a safety plan that shall restore a sense of safety for that student.
Confidentiality shall be used to protect students who report bullying, provide information during an investigation of bullying, or are witness to or have reliable information about an act of bullying.
If the Principal or designee determines that bullying has occurred they shall take appropriate disciplinary action and if it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator, the Principal shall consult with the school´s resource officer and the Superintendent to determine if criminal charges are warranted. If it is determined that criminal charges are warranted, the local law enforcement agency shall be notified.
The investigation shall be completed within 14 school days from the date of the report. At a minimum the Principal or their designee shall contact the parents/guardians as to the status of the investigation on a weekly basis. The parents/guardians shall be contacted upon completion of the investigation and informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, and whether disciplinary action has or shall be taken.
Disciplinary actions for students who have committed an act of bullying or retaliation shall be in accordance with District disciplinary policies.
Each school shall document any incident of bullying that is reported per this policy and a file shall be maintained by the Principal or designee. A monthly report shall be provided to the Superintendent.
Confidentiality shall be maintained to the extent consistent with the District´s obligations under law.
Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying, shall be prohibited.
The District shall provide counseling or referral to appropriate services, including guidance, academic intervention, and protection to students, both targets and perpetrators, affected by bullying, as necessary.
Training and Assessment
Annual training shall be provided for staff who have significant contact with students in preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.
Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention shall be incorporated into the curriculum for all K to 12 students.
Publication and Notice
Annual written notice of the relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided to students and their parents/guardians, in age-appropriate terms.
Annual written notice of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided to all staff. Staff shall be trained annually on the bullying prevention and intervention plan applicable to the school.
Relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan relating to the duties of staff shall be included in the school employee handbook.
The bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be posted on the District website.
LEGAL REFS.: Title VII, Section 703, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended
Federal Regulation 74676 issued by EEO Commission
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
603 CMR 26.00
M.G.L. 71:37O; 265:43, 43A; 268:13B; 269:14A
REFERENCES: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education´s Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
CROSS REFS.: AC, Nondiscrimination
ACAB, Sexual Harassment
JBA, Student-to-Student Harassment JIC, Student Discipline
JICFA, Prohibition of Hazing
This policy was updated and approved by the Hingham School Committee on 6/06/22