Hurtful/Harmful Behavior (Including Harassment, Intimidation, or Bullying)
The physical, psychological, and socio-emotional safety of students is the first priority in Painesville City Local Schools. Without this safety, productive learning and effective development cannot take place. It is our mission for every student to feel happy, safe, and supported every single day.
Hurtful and harmful student behavior is a primary disruptor to student feelings of safety and security. As such, reports of hurtful/harmful behavior are taken very seriously–whatever its cause or form. Every report must be addressed with care, and include everyone connected to the incident (students, families, and staff).
“Hurtful/harmful behavior” is any intentional act meant to result in physical, psychological, and/or socio-emotional damage of another. It is a category of incidents in which there is a victim and offender. When repeated over time, hurtful/harmful behavior may be classified as harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
Per policy, “harassment, intimidation, or bullying” means any intentional written, verbal, electronic, or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another particular student(s) more than once and the behavior both causes mental or physical harm to the other student(s) and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student(s). This also includes violence within a dating relationship.
“Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” is a technical definition of a specific type of behavior, and is a sub-category within the larger category of “hurtful/harmful behavior”. Whether or not a given case rises to the level of harassment/intimidation/bullying, the need of the student experiencing it is the same–to feel safe. Thus, regardless of the name assigned to a given case, the priority is to address this need for feelings of safety. This means that with each report of hurtful/harmful behavior, the same general protocol will be followed, regardless of the particular circumstances of the case.
Through education and community-building activities, sustained efforts are made to prevent hurtful and harmful behavior. Elementary students participate in weekly lessons on empathy, emotional management, and relationships with others, which include a series of lessons on recognizing, reporting, and refusing bullying, and bystander power and responsibility. Middle school students participate in Where Everybody Belongs (WEB), Start with Hello, and Above the Line (bullying prevention) programming, and receive lessons on conflict management/resolution, healthy relationships, and relational aggression. All students in grades six through twelve receive direct instruction on social inclusion and safety/violence prevention. Throughout each year in every building, multiple activities and events take place in an effort to build positive climate as a component of our Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) programming. These programs and activities are accompanied by staff training.
Response to Reports of Hurtful/Harmful Behavior
Despite ongoing efforts to prevent hurtful/harmful behavior, we recognize that incidents will still occur at times. It is the expectation of all staff to be vigilant and to intervene immediately. However, please know that there are times when hurtful/harmful behavior occurs without our being aware (note that many incidents occur outside of school, especially through social media). It is critical that any time that a student feels victimized by the behavior of another, it is reported to the school so that we have the opportunity to intervene.
Whenever a report of hurtful/harmful behavior is received, it is investigated. An investigation may lead to disciplinary consequences and/or other interventions with the alleged offender(s). However, again, the first priority is to address the need for feelings of safety/security of the alleged victim. In an effort to achieve this, the following actions are part of the response protocol:
- Family communication- If it is reported that your child was subjected to hurtful/harmful behavior, you should expect communication from the school about the steps being taken to re-establish the child’s safety and security, along with any details which can be shared regarding the investigation taking place.
- Check-ins with student- School staff (typically an administrator and/or counselor) will be checking in directly with the alleged victim following the report. The frequency and formality of these check-ins is guided by the circumstances of the situation and by the comfort level of the student.
- Notification to relevant staff- All staff who have supervisory responsibilities when the alleged victim(s) and offender(s) are in the same place at the same time are made aware of the situation. These staff serve as additional “eyes and ears” to monitor for any recurrence and to ensure that the expectations for those involved are being met, as well as to watch for behaviors or other cues which indicate particular needs.
This is the expected protocol given any report of hurtful/harmful behavior, whether or not allegations are substantiated, whether or not the behavior is found to be mutual, or whether or not the allegations rise to the level of harassment/intimidation/bullying. Again, it is our primary responsibility and priority to ensure that feelings of safety and security are preserved among all of our students.
Reporting Hurtful/Harmful Behavior
The best way to report incidents of hurtful/harmful behavior is to communicate directly with the building administrator, whether it be via phone, via email, or in person. Reporting directly generally allows for more details to be shared, for questions to be asked, and for sharing of ideas for initial steps. However, in an effort to make the ability to report as accessible as possible, online reporting forms are also available. A reporting form for each building can be accessed below.
Chestnut Hurtful/Harmful Behavior Reporting Form
Elm Hurtful/Harmful Behavior Reporting Form
Maple Hurtful/Harmful Behavior Reporting Form
Heritage Hurtful/Harmful Behavior Reporting Form
Harvey Hurtful/Harmful Behavior Reporting Form
BULLYING PREVENTION - Board Policy 5517.01
Harassment, intimidation, or bullying toward a student, whether by other students, staff, or third parties is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated. This prohibition includes aggressive behavior, physical, verbal, and psychological abuse. The Board of Education will not tolerate any gestures, comments, threats, or actions which cause or threaten to cause bodily harm or personal degradation. This policy applies to all activities in the District, including activities on school property or while en route to or from school, and those occurring off school property if the student or employee is at any school-sponsored, school-approved or school-related activity or function, such as field trips or athletic events where students are under the school's control, in a school vehicle, or where an employee is engaged in school business.
This policy has been developed in consultation with parents, District employees, volunteers, students, and community members as prescribed in R.C. 3313.666 and the State Board of Education's Model Policy.
Harassment, intimidation, or bullying means any intentional written, verbal, graphic, or physical act that a student or group of students exhibits toward another particular student(s) more than once and the behavior both causes mental or physical harm to the other student(s) and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student(s). Aggressive behavior is defined as inappropriate conduct that is repeated enough, or serious enough, to negatively impact a student's educational, physical, or emotional well being. This type of behavior is a form of intimidation and harassment, although it need not be based on any of the legally protected characteristics, such as sex, race, color, national origin, marital status, or disability. It would include, but not be limited to, such behaviors as stalking, bullying/cyberbullying, intimidating, menacing, coercion, name-calling, taunting, making threats, and hazing.
Harassment, intimidation, or bullying also means electronically transmitted acts (i.e., internet, e-mail, cellular telephone, personal digital assistance (PDA), or wireless hand-held device) that a student(s) or a group of students exhibits toward another particular student(s) more than once and the behavior both causes mental and physical harm to the other student and is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for the other student(s).
Any student or student's parent/guardian who believes s/he has been or is the victim of aggressive behavior should immediately report the situation to the building principal or assistant principal, or the Superintendent. The student may also report concerns to teachers and other school staff who will be responsible for notifying the appropriate administrator or Board official. Complaints against the building principal should be filed with the Superintendent. Complaints against the Superintendent should be filed with the Board President.
Every student is encouraged, and every staff member is required, to report any situation that they believe to be aggressive behavior directed toward a student. Reports may be made to those identified above.
All complaints about aggressive behavior that may violate this policy shall be promptly investigated. The building principal or appropriate administrator shall prepare a written report of the investigation upon completion. Such report shall include findings of fact, a determination of whether acts of harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying were verified, and, when prohibited acts are verified, a recommendation for intervention, including disciplinary action shall be included in the report. Where appropriate, written witness statements shall be attached to the report.
If the investigation finds an instance of harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying has occurred, it will result in prompt and appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action. This may include up to expulsion for students, up to discharge for employees, exclusion for parents, guests, volunteers, and contractors, and removal from any official position and/or a request to resign for Board members. Individuals may also be referred to law enforcement officials.
Retaliation against any person who reports, is thought to have reported, files a complaint, or otherwise participates in an investigation or inquiry concerning allegations of aggressive behavior is prohibited and will not be tolerated. Such retaliation shall be considered a serious violation of Board policy and independent of whether a complaint is substantiated. Suspected retaliation should be reported in the same manner as aggressive behavior. Making intentionally false reports about aggressive behavior for the purpose of getting someone in trouble is similarly prohibited and will not be tolerated. Retaliation and intentionally false reports may result in disciplinary action as indicated above.
If a student or other individual believes there has been aggressive behavior, regardless of whether it fits a particular definition, s/he should report it and allow the administration to determine the appropriate course of action.
This policy shall not be interpreted to infringe upon the First Amendment rights of students (i.e., to prohibit a reasoned and civil exchange of opinions, or debate, that is conducted at appropriate times and places during the school day and is protected by State or Federal law).
The complainant shall be notified of the findings of the investigation, and as appropriate, that remedial action has been taken. If after investigation, acts of bullying against a specific student are verified, the building principal or appropriate administrator shall notify the parent/guardian of the victim of such finding. In providing such notification care shall be taken to respect the statutory privacy rights of the perpetrator of such harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying.
If after investigation, act of harassment, intimidate, and/or bullying by a specific student are verified, the building principal or appropriate administrator shall notify in writing the parent/guardian of the perpetrator of that finding. If disciplinary consequences are imposed against such student, a description of such discipline shall be included in the notification.
Students and/or their parents/guardians may file reports regarding suspected harassment, intimidation, or bullying. Such reports shall be reasonably specific including person(s) involved, number of times and places of the alleged conduct, the target of suspected harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying, and the names of any potential student or staff witnesses. Such reports may be filed with any school staff member or administrator, and they shall be promptly forwarded to the building principal for review, investigation, and action.
The School District will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against who the complaint is filed, and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with the Board’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to conform with any discovery or disclosure obligations. All records generated under this policy and its related administrative guidelines shall be maintained as confidential to the extent permitted by law.
At least semi-annually, the Superintendent shall provide to the President of the Board a written summary of all reported incidents and post the summary on the District web site. The list shall be limited to the number of verified acts of harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying, whether in the classroom, on school property, to and from school, or at school-sponsored events.
Allegations of criminal misconduct and suspected child abuse will be reported to the appropriate law enforcement agency and/or to Child Protective Services in accordance with statute. District personnel shall cooperate with investigations by such agencies.
A School District employee, student, or volunteer shall be individually immune from liability in a civil action for damages arising from reporting an incident in accordance with this policy and R.C. 3313.666 if that person reports an incident of harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying promptly, in good faith, and in compliance with the procedures specified in this policy. Such immunity from liability shall not apply to an employee, student, or volunteer determined to have made an intentionally false report about harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying.
Notice of this policy will be annually circulated to and posted in conspicuous locations in all school buildings and departments within the District and discussed with students, as well as incorporated into the teacher, student, and parent/guardian handbooks. State and Federal rights posters on discrimination and harassment shall also be posted at each building. All new hires will be required to review and sign off on this policy and the related complaint procedure.
Education and Training
In support of this policy, the Board promotes preventative educational measures to create greater awareness of aggressive behavior, including bullying. The Superintendent or designee shall provide appropriate training to all members of the School District community related to the implementation of this policy and its accompanying administrative guidelines. All training regarding the Board’s policy and administrative guidelines and aggressive behavior and bullying in general, will be age and content appropriate.
The Superintendent is directed to develop administrative guidelines to implement this policy. Guidelines shall include reporting and investigative procedures, as needed. The complaint procedure established by the Superintendent shall be followed.
R.C. 3313.666, 3313.667State Board of Education Model Policy (2007)