Connecticut has had anti-bullying statutes for several years. A new statute, Public Act 19-166, established a social and emotional learning and school climate advisory collaborative. This recognizes the crucial effect of school climate on bullying behavior. Among other duties, the collaborative shall collect information concerning the school climate improvement efforts of local and regional boards of education. It shall identify best practices for promoting positive school climates and develop a model positive school climate policy. The members of the collaborative are appointed by various members of the Connecticut State Legislature. The statute specifies that the members must be selected from various stakeholders.
The new law also modifies the definition of bullying. It now means: an act that is direct or indirect and severe, persistent, or pervasive and (1) causes a student emotional or physical harm, (2) places a student in reasonable fear of such harm, or (3) infringes on a student’s rights or opportunities at school. Under this definition, the actions do not necessarily have to occur between two students. Prior law defined “bullying” as one or more students’ repeated use of a written, oral, or electronic communication directed at or referring to a student in the same school district, or a physical act or gesture repeatedly directed at another student in the district, that (1) causes a student physical or emotional harm or property damage, (2) places the student in fear of such harm or property damage, (3) creates a hostile school environment for the student, (4) infringes on his or her rights at school, or (5) substantially disrupts the school’s education process or orderly operation. As under existing law, bullying includes written, oral, or electronic communication or a physical act or gesture on the basis of having, or associating with individuals who have, certain actual or perceived characteristics (e.g., race, gender, or disability).
Not later than January 1, 2021, and annually thereafter, the collaborative shall submit a report concerning its efforts to monitor the school climate improvement efforts of local and regional boards of education and to make other recommendations. Not later than January 1, 2020, the collaborative was required to develop a model positive school climate policy. Not later than July 1, 2020, the collaborative was required to submit the assessment it developed for screening students at risk for suicide and recommendations for implementation of such assessment in public elementary, middle and high schools. Not later than July 1, 2021, the collaborative shall develop a state- wide climate survey which will obtain information from school employees and parents.
If your child is being bullied, check your school district’s policies. Local school districts have a lot of requirements they must follow. Consult an education attorney at Zimberlin Law LLC to find out if your town is in compliance.