Indiana’s revised bullying legislation, enacted July 1, and the lack of counselors at two of four Batesville Community School Corp. buildings were the top issues at the Sept. 16 meeting.
Trustees considered the first reading of a BCSC bullying policy that was formulated by director of student learning Melissa Burton, principals and assistant principals. It must be in place by Oct. 15, according to state law.
Burton explained, “We tried to make a policy that aligned with all the law changes,” including reporting procedures, investigation timetables, definitions, a bullying curriculum and training for staff and volunteers.
Indiana Code 20-33-8-0.2 defines bullying as “overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including (1) verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically); (2) physical acts committed, aggression; or (3) any other behaviors that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate or harm the other targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment ...”
The old law stated discipline rules were needed for bullying taking place on school grounds before, during or after school; during a later school event; or traveling to or from school. This year IC 20-33-8-13.5 was broadened to state BCSC’s rules “may be applied regardless of the physical location in which the bullying behavior occurred, whenever: (1) the individual committing the bullying behavior and any of the intended targets of the bullying behavior are students attending a school within a school corporation; and (2) disciplinary action is reasonably necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or prevent an unreasonable threat to the rights of others to a safe and peaceful learning environment.”
That Indiana Code section also calls for “a detailed procedure for the expedited investigation of incidents ...” There must be “discipline provisions for teachers, school staff or school administrators who fail to initiate or conduct an investigation of a bullying incident.” The section adds BCSC must provide “support services for the victim and bullying education for the bully.”