Developing an in-school protocol for handling bullying allegations is very important these days. Bullying is a serious issue in the school environment not only for student well-being, but also as an issue involving legal liability. Best practice nationwide dictates that schools implement policies and educate students and staff on bullying identification and prevention. Bullying has received a lot of attention in recent years as it is a consistent issue across numerous grade levels and areas in Arizona. Schools must be aware of the problem and consider the benefits of developing a comprehensive policy for addressing bully activity in schools.
Why Do We Need a Protocol?
Clear documentation can help to avoid legal issues and stop an emerging bullying issue from getting worse, and it’s recommended that schools evaluate working with an experienced attorney if possible. An attorney can review existing policies and suggest areas for improvement based on Arizona law.
In Arizona, the state has added an extra layer of anti-bullying policy by placing strict requirements on how schools handle bullying allegations. Arizona Revised Statutes § 15-341.37 provides specific regulations on how schools should handle bullying allegations as part of legally mandated bullying policies. Accordingly, schools should consider the legal requirements as the baseline for protocols related to bullying allegations. The statute requires that a school’s bullying policy should allow for the following procedures to be put in place with regard to investigating and disposing of bullying allegations.
- Confidential reporting through written forms that detail bullying incidents.
- Mandatory reporting of bullying by school district employees.
- Informing students of their rights and protections and support services under the school’s bullying policy.
- Formal and confidential documentation of reported bullying incidents for at least six years.
- A formal process for the investigation of bullying incidents.
- Disciplinary procedures who have admitted or been found to have bullied.
- A procedure addressing the submission of false reports of bullying.
- Procedures designed to protect students who are physically harmed as the result of bullying.
Benefits of a Clear Bullying Policy
A bullying policy that addresses allegations in a clear and predictable manner, allows incidents to be reported, investigated and disposed of in a uniform manner, is essential. With clear and predictable policies students and staff will have a clear understanding of how bullying allegations will be addressed, which in turn communicates a school’s position of being firm yet fair on the issue of bullying.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding Developing an In-School Protocol for Handling Bullying Allegations, or any Education Law matter, please feel free to contact 480.461.5300, log on to udallshumway.com, or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.