Dear Parents and Guardians:
We take bullying and harassment very seriously in Marion County Schools, and we adhere to all state of Florida laws and rules on this matter. I want to ensure that each student and family member is fully aware of our programs for students, including policies and procedures, to prevent and follow up on bullying.
We encourage you to talk about bullying and harassment with your children and the negative effects it can have on them and others with whom your children interact. Finally, we appreciate ideas or suggestions you have.
Marion County Schools Bullying and Harassment Policy
It is the policy of the Marion County School District that all students have an educational setting that is safe, secure, and free from harassment and bullying of any kind. The district will not tolerate bullying and harassment of any type. Conduct that constitutes bullying and harassment, as defined, is prohibited and may result in consequences that include suspension, reporting to law enforcement, or alternative placement if repeated offenses occur.
Bullying means systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual’s school performance or participation; and may involve but is not limited to:
- Unwanted teasing
- Social exclusion
- Physical violence
- Sexual, religious, or racial harassment
- Public humiliation
- Destruction of school or victim’s personal property
- Rumor or spreading of falsehoods.
Harassment means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, written, or verbal or physical conduct directed against a student:
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a students or employee’s performance, opportunities, or benefits.
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.
Bullying and harassment also encompasses:
- Retaliation against a student for asserting or alleging an act of bullying or harassment. Reporting an act of bullying or harassment that is not made in good faith is considered retaliation.
- Perpetuation of conduct listed in the definition of bullying or harassment by an individual or group with intent to demean, dehumanize, embarrass, or cause emotional or physical harm to a student or school employee by Incitement or coercion (Acting in a manner that has an effect substantially similar to the effect of bullying or harassment.)
When we receive a report that bullying/harassment may have occurred, we adhere to OPP 10.29, which is consistent with the process mandated by the Florida Department of Education. Most importantly, we ensure that students’ rights are protected and we are committed to doing investigations in a thorough manner. Also, we will protect the confidentiality of each student involved, and therefore we will not be able to share what kinds of consequences have occurred for other people’s children.
Marion County’s Positive Behavior Support Program
Our goal is to create a safe and nurturing environment free from bullying and harassment, and we do this campus-wide in collaboration with our school community.
The PBS approach establishes school wide behavioral expectations that are infused into all areas of the campus. These expectations are Respect, On Task, Aim High, and Responsibility. The approach emphasizes modeling, teaching and reinforcing appropriate behaviors related to these expectations. Although PBS focuses on modeling, teaching, and recognizing positive behavior, it is also used to address problem behavior in a more meaningful way.
I trust that the above provides you with valuable insights, information, and resources about bullying prevention programs and services at your child’s school, including school policies and procedures for reporting, investigation, and follow up on all reported incidents involving bullying or harassment.
Sarah Dobbs, Anti-Bullying Committee Member