SECTION 1. Section 1 of chapter 71 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2006 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the words “emotional development”, in line 19, the following words:-
“safe and healthy relationships with a focus on preventing sexual and domestic violence”.
SECTION 2. Said chapter 71 is hereby amended by inserting after section 2B the following section:-
Section 2C. All school districts in the Commonwealth shall implement a specific policy and discipline code to address teen dating violence in public schools.
Such policies shall clearly state that dating violence will not be tolerated and shall include guidelines for addressing alleged incidents of dating violence. Such policies may include a teen dating violence prevention task force comprised of staff, students and parents to provide awareness training and education for the school community. Such policies would include defining the issue of teen dating violence, recognizing warning signs, identifying issues of confidentiality, safety and appropriate legal school-based interventions.
SECTION 3. Said chapter 71 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after section 37N the following 2 sections:-
Section 37O. (a) As used in this section the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meaning:-
“Bullying” means a severe, persistent, or pervasive gesture, electronic communication, written communication, verbal communication, or physical or sexual act that that is reasonably perceived to have the effect of:
(1) harming a student physically or emotionally or damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage; or,
(2) insulting or demeaning a student or group of students causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.
‘Cyberbullying’’ means bullying by electronic communication of any kind effected, created or transmitted by the use of any electronic device, including, but not limited to, e-mail, instant messaging, text messages, blogs, mobile phones, pagers, online games and websites.
(b) Every school district shall include in its district code of conduct, as required by section 37H, the following:
(1) a statement prohibiting bullying and cyberbullying; and
(2) a bullying and cyberbullying prevention plan.
(c) Each district superintendent shall develop a bullying and cyberbullying prevention plan in consultation with teachers, staff, professional support personnel, administrators, students and parents, and shall update the plan biennially. Each bullying and cyberbullying prevention plan shall include the following elements:
(1) a statement prohibiting bullying and cyberbullying on or near school grounds, at any school-sponsored event or activity or using school computers or technology. The statement shall also prohibit retaliation against students or school personnel who report incidents of bullying and cyberbullying;
(2) a method for students, staff and parents to report bullying and cyberbullying behavior. Each school must designate a school official, identified by job title, who shall be responsible for implementing and enforcing the plan;
(3) the type of behavior expected from each student and staff member and age-appropriate descriptions of forbidden behavior;
(4) ongoing professional development for staff and age-appropriate curriculum for students regarding bullying and cyberbullying; and
(5) an outline of the procedures to be used in a flexible and prompt bullying and cyberbullying response, the range of consequences and remedial actions for a student who commits an act of bullying and cyberbullying or retaliates against students or school personnel who report incidents of bullying and cyberbullying and notification of parents or guardians of these incidents in a prompt manner.
(d) The department of education shall establish rules and regulations defining district reporting requirements for incidents of bullying and cyberbullying. In the development of these rules and regulations, the department shall consider how these reporting requirements may be incorporated into existing district disciplinary reporting requirements.
(e) Nothing in this section shall supersede or replace existing rights and remedies under federal law or laws of this commonwealth.
(g) Nothing in this section shall create a private remedy for enforcement of this section against any public school, school district or the commonwealth.
(h) Nothing in this section shall prevent remediation for any harassment under legally protected categories under state and federal law.
Section 37P. The board of education shall approve a list of bullying prevention and cyberbullying resources consistent with section 37O that shall be made available for use by school districts. These resources may include: print, audio, video, or digital media; subscription-based online services; and on-site or technology-enabled professional development and training sessions.
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