May 13, 2009
CONNECTICUT BULLYING LAW
By: Soncia Coleman, Associate Legislative Analyst
You asked for a summary of Connecticut's bullying law.
The law defines bullying as overt acts by a student or a group of students committed more than once per school year against another student with the intent to ridicule, harass, humiliate or intimidate the other student while on school grounds, at a school-sponsored activity, or on a school bus. It requires each board of education to develop and implement a policy to address the existence of bullying in its schools. The policies must include provisions on reporting, investigation, notification, and intervention. The policies can include provisions addressing bullying outside of the school setting if it has a direct and negative impact on a student's academic performance or safety in school.
Each board of education had to submit its policy to the State Department of Education (SDE) by February 1, 2009, and by July 1, 2009, must make sure that the policy is included in the school district's publication of the rules, procedures, and standards of conduct and in all student handbooks (CGS § 10-222d).
The required policies must:
1. allow students to anonymously report acts of bullying to teachers and school administrators and require students to be notified annually of the process for making such reports;
2. enable the parents or guardians of students to file written reports of suspected bullying;
3. require teachers and other school staff who witness acts of bullying or receive student reports of bullying to notify school administrators in writing;
4. require school administrators to investigate any written reports and to review any anonymous reports, except that no disciplinary action can be taken based solely on an anonymous report;
5. include a prevention and intervention strategy for school staff to deal with bullying;
6. provide for the inclusion of language in student codes of conduct concerning bullying;
7. require each school to notify the parents or guardians of the bully and bullied student, and include in the notice a description of the school's response, any consequences of future acts, and an invitation for them to attend at least one meeting;
8. require each school to maintain a list of the number of verified acts of bullying in the school and make it available for public inspection, and, within available appropriations, annually report the number to SDE;
9. direct the development of case-by-case interventions for addressing repeated incidents of bullying against a single individual or recurrently perpetrated bullying incidents by the same individual that may include both counseling and discipline; and
10. identify the appropriate school personnel, which cannot be limited to pupil services personnel, responsible for taking a bullying report and investigating the complaint.
The law specifies that that the term "prevention and intervention strategy" can include, but is not limited to:
1. implementation of a positive behavioral interventions and supports process or another evidence-based model approach for safe school climate or for the prevention of bullying identified by SDE;
2. a school survey to determine the prevalence of bullying;
3. establishment of a bullying prevention coordinating committee with broad representation to review the survey results and implement the strategy;
4. school rules prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation and establishing appropriate consequences for those who engage in such acts;
5. adequate adult supervision of outdoor areas, hallways, the lunchroom, and other specific areas where bullying is likely to occur;
6. inclusion of grade-appropriate bullying prevention curricula in kindergarten through high school;
7. individual interventions with the bully, parents, and school staff, and interventions with the bullied child, parents, and school staff;
8. school-wide training related to safe school climate; and
9. promotion of parent involvement in bullying prevention through individual or team participation in meetings, trainings and individual interventions (CGS § 10-222g).
SDE REVIEW OF POLICIES
Effective July 1, 2009, SDE must, within available appropriations:
1. review and analyze the policies submitted to it;
2. examine the relationship between bullying, school climate, and student outcomes;
3. document school districts' articulated needs for technical assistance and training related to safe learning and bullying;
4. collect information on the prevention and intervention strategies used by schools to reduce the incidence of bullying, improve school climate, and improve reporting outcomes; and
5. develop model policies for grades K-12 for the prevention of bullying.
SDE can accept private donations to do this.
By February 1, 2010, SDE must submit a report on the status of its efforts and any recommendations it may have regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate, to the Education and Children's committees (CGS § 10-222h).