by Kelly Maguire

Safe School Climate Act

Safe School Climate Act/Bullying

Legislation

State of South Carolina General Assembly
Safe School Climate Act’
to Prevent School Harassment, Intimidation, or Bullying

 
 

Findings

Section 1.

 

(A) The General Assembly finds that:

 

(1) A safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards.

 

(2) Harassment, intimidation, and bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, are conducts that disrupt both a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate its students in a safe environment.

 

(3) Since students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and       volunteers should be commended for demonstrating appropriate behavior,        treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment,       intimidation, or bullying.

 

(B) The purpose of this act is to protect the health and welfare of, and improve the learning environment for South Carolina school children.

 

Safe School Climate Act

Section 2. Chapter 63, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

Section 59-63-110.  This article may be cited as the ‘Safe School Climate Act’.

Section 59-63-120.  As used in this article:

 

(1) “Harassment, intimidation, or bullying’ means a gesture, an electronic communication, or a written, verbal, physical or sexual act that is reasonably perceived to have the effect of:

 

(a) 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

 

(b) insulting or demeaning a student or group of students causing substantial      disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

 

(2) ‘School’ means in a classroom, on school premises, on a school bus or other school-related vehicle, at an official school bus stop, at a school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises, or at another program or function where the school is responsible for the child.

 

Section 59-63-130. (A)  A person may not engage in:

 

(1) harassment, intimidation, or bulling; or

 

(2) reprisal, retaliation, or false accusation against a victim, witness, or one with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.

 

(B) A school employee, student, or volunteer who witnesses, or has reliable information that a student has been subject to harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall report the incident to the appropriate school official.

Section 59-63-140. (A) Before January 1, 2007, each local school district shall adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying at school.  The school district shall involve parents and guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and community representatives in the process of creating the policy.

Continued on reverse side

 

 

(B) The policy must include, but not be limited to, the following components:

 

(1) a statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student;

 

(2) a definition of harassment, intimidation, or bullying no less inclusive      than the definition in Section 59-63-120;

 

(3) a description of appropriate student behavior;

 

(4) consequences and appropriate remedial actions for persons committing      acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, and for persons engaging     in reprisal or retaliation;

 

(5) procedures for reporting acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying,       to include a provision for reporting anonymously. However, formal      disciplinary action must not be taken solely on the basis of an      anonymous report.  The procedures must identify the appropriate       school personnel responsible for taking the report and investigating the      complaint;

 

(6) procedures for prompt investigation of reports of serious violations and      complaints;

 

(7) a statement that prohibits reprisal or retaliation against a person who       reports an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying;

 

(8) consequences and appropriate remedial action for persons found to      have falsely accused another;

 

(9) a process for discussing the district’s harassment, intimidation, or       bullying policy with students; and

 

(10) a statement of how the policy is to be publicized, including notice that        the policy applies to participation in school-sponsored functions.

 

(C) To assist local school districts in developing policies for the prevention of

 

 harassment, intimidation, or bullying, the State Board of Education shall develop model policies applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve.  Additionally, the State Board of Education shall develop teacher preparation program standards on the identification and prevention of bullying.  The model policies and standards must be developed no later than September 1, 2006.

 

(D) The local school board shall ensure that the school district’s policy developed pursuant to this article is included in the school district’s publication of the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for schools and in the student’s handbook.

 

(E) Information regarding a local school district policy against harassment, intimidation, or bullying must be incorporated into a school’s employee training program.  Training also should be provided to school volunteers who have significant contact with students.

 

(F) Schools and school districts are encouraged to establish bullying prevention programs and other initiatives involving school staff, students, administrators, volunteers, parents, law enforcement, and community members.

 

Section 59-63-150. (A) This article must not be interpreted to prevent a victim from seeking redress pursuant to another available civil or criminal law.  This section does not create or alter tort liability.

 

(B) A school employee or volunteer who promptly reports an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying to the appropriate school official designated by the local school district’s policy, and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures in the district’s policy, is immune from a cause of action for damages arising from failure to remedy the reported incident.”

 

Time Effective

SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor Ratified the 7th day of June, 2006. Approved the 12th day of June, 2006.

Attachments

School Law Article

If you want more information about our education law practice or a copy of any of our articles, contact David Duff at dduff@ddtwb.com

SCHOOL LAW
"ISSUE OF THE MONTH"
August 2006

THE SAFE SCHOOLS CLIMATE ACT:
South Carolina Grabs the “Bully” By the Horns

Do you remember a time, perhaps back in grade school, when you were bullied by another student?  Chances are it happened to you, and while the memory may be decades old, it may still be vivid in your mind.  At some point, almost all children will experience an incident in which they are called a name, taunted, physically injured, or made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome around their peers at school by a bully.  It is a parent’s worst nightmare for his or her child to come home shaken and scared from such an experience.  Unfortunately, many children who are bullied are unnecessarily ashamed and embarrassed at what is happening to them and therefore remain silent. To ensure a safe and civil school environment where all students may learn and achieve high academic standards, last term the South Carolina General Assembly passed the “Safe Schools Climate Act,” which went into effect on June 12, 2006.

The Safe Schools Climate Act prohibits harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools.  The Act also prohibits reprisal or retaliation against a victim, witness, or someone with reliable information about such behavior.  Prohibited conduct includes gestures, electronic communications, and written, verbal, physical or sexual acts that someone would reasonably believe insult, demean or harm a student physically or emotionally.  Bullies not only may be punished for classroom conduct, but also may be punished for bullying on school grounds, on a school bus, at a bus stop, at a school event away from school premises, or at any other function in which the school is responsible for the child.

The purpose of the new legislation is to protect the health and welfare of school children in South Carolina and to improve their learning environment.  Harassment, intimidation, and bullying not only disrupt a student’s ability to learn, but also interfere with a school’s ability to educate its students in an environment conducive to learning.  The General Assembly noted that because students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers should refuse to tolerate bullying behaviors and model appropriate behavior by treating others with civility and respect.  As most parents realize, even when children are headstrong, they are closely watching and being shaped by the behavior of adults around them.

To make the implementation of the Safe Schools Climate Act successful in schools across the state, the Act requires each school district to adopt a policy, on or before January 1, 2007, prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying at school.  Parents, guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and community representatives all are to be included in the process of policy development.  The Act contains detailed components that each district’s policy must include.  To ensure uniformity and smooth operation of policy development, the Act requires the State Board of Education to draft model policies for kindergarten through twelfth grades and teacher preparation program standards on the identification and prevention of bullying, no later than September 1, 2006.

The South Carolina Department of Education receives federal funding through the “Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act” for training and technical assistance in implementing effective programs and curricula in the areas of drug and violence prevention.  The Department is currently working on the model policy required by the Safe Schools Climate Act for all school districts to use in complying with the new legislation.

Unfortunately, concerned parents whose children have been bullied by other students sometimes initiate lawsuits against districts, alleging that the harm suffered by their children could have been prevented or mitigated if the school had taken further preventative action.  Courts typically are deferential to school officials’ decisions in handling student-initiated violence and bullying, provided that those officials have followed the district’s established policies and procedures.  Ultimately, courts will not hold school districts liable unless they find that school officials were “deliberately indifferent” to bullying and that the harassment was so severe that it effectively barred the student victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.  A well-drafted policy regarding bullying, and education of teachers and administrators as to how to best handle student bullying or violence, should assure that school districts are protected should a suit be initiated.

While school bullying may be a painful memory for some of us, it does not have to be that way for today’s schoolchildren.  By adopting and implementing policies to prevent student harassment and bullying, districts ensure that children will feel safe in their environment and ultimately will perform better in the classroom.  Districts should anticipate the publication of model policies developed by the Department of Education in the coming weeks and should thereafter adopt new policies or amend existing ones to conform to state law.  For questions or assistance with this or any other matter, please contact Duff & White, LLC at 1.800.639.1677.

Past Issues of the Month may be accessed at www.ddtwb.com.
http://www.ddtwb.com/November-2007/Aug2006.shtml

Bullying Prevention Month Videos / Activities

Message from Governor Haley, Dabo Swinney, Steve Spurrier

 October is Bullying Prevention Month and Governor Haley along with Coach Dabo Swinney, Coach Steve Spurrier, Miss South Carolina, and Miss Teen South Carolina USA have joined together to challenge students to prevent bullying. 

Below, you will find links to videos that have been put together and we encourage you to show these videos in your classroom during the month of October. 

Also, the 2011 Summit on Bullying is just a week away and there is still time to register!  Topics such as cyberbullying, relational aggression, working with parents, developing a youth leadership program for bullying prevention will be presented.  Go to www.scasa.orgto register today!

"Cool Kids Don't Bully!" feat. Governor Haley, Coach Spurrier, Coach Swinney, Miss SC USA, and Miss Teen SC USA

Governor Nikki Haley talks about Bullying

University of South Carolina Head Football Coach Steve Spurrier talks about Bullying

Clemson University Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney talks about Bullying

Miss South Carolina USA 2011 Courtney Turner talks about Bullying

Miss South Carolina Teen USA 2011 Keyla Childs talks about Bullying

Thank you for all you do to keep kids safe throughout South Carolina!

Attachments