2003 -- S 0272 SUBSTITUTE A AS AMENDED
RELATING TO EDUCATION -- HEALTH AND SAFETY OF PUPILS
Introduced By: Senators Tassoni, Celona, Cote, and Polisena
Date Introduced: February 05, 2003
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Legislative declaration. The general assembly hereby finds, determines,
and declares that bullying disrupts a school's ability to educate students and threatens public
safety by creating an atmosphere in which such behavior can escalate into violence. The general
assembly therefore finds that a policy to create an environment free of bullying shall be part of
each school district's safe school plan. All students have a right to work and study in a safe,
supportive environment that is free from harassment, intimidation and bullying.
SECTION 2. Chapter 16-21 of the General Laws entitled "Health and Safety of Pupils"
is hereby amended by adding thereto the following section:
16-21-26. Student discipline codes. – (1) As used in this section:
(a) "At school" means in a classroom, elsewhere on or immediately adjacent to school
premises, on a school bus or other school-related vehicle, at an official school bus stop, or at any
school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises.
(b) “Harassment, intimidation or bullying” means an intentional written, verbal or physical
act or threat of a physical act that, under the totality of circumstances:
(1) A reasonable person should know will have the effect of: physically harming a
student, damaging a student's property, placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her
person, or placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to his or her property; or
(2) Is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating,
threatening or abusive educational environment for a student.
(3) The board of a school district of a public school shall adopt a policy prohibiting
harassment, intimidation, or bullying at school. The policy shall specifically prohibit harassment,
intimidation and bullying by students at school and address prevention of an education about such
behavior. The policy shall be adopted through a process that includes representation of parents or
guardians, school employees, volunteers, pupils, school administrators and community
(4) Each school district shall adopt the policy under this section and transmit a copy of its
policy to the commissioner of elementary and secondary education and director of the department
of education by September 1, 2004.
(5) To assist school districts and public schools in developing policies for the prevention
of harassment, intimidation or bullying, the department of education shall develop a model policy
applicable to grades K-12. This model policy shall be issued no later than December 1, 2003.
(6) A school district shall ensure that notice of the school district's or public school's
policy under this section is included in any publication of the school district or public school
policy that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for its schools
and in its pupil handbook.
(7) A school employee, pupil or volunteer shall not, nor shall said individuals solicit
others with the intent to engage in reprisal, retaliation or false accusation against a victim, witness
or one with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying.
(8) A school employee, pupil or volunteer who has witnessed or has reliable information
that a pupil has been subjected to harassment, intimidation or bullying, whether written, verbal or
physical, is encouraged to report the incident to the appropriate school official designated by the
school district's or public school's policy.
(9) A school employee who promptly reports an incident of harassment, intimidation or
bullying to the appropriate school official designated by the school district's or public school's
policy, and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures in the policy prohibiting
harassment, intimidation or bullying is not liable for damages arising from any failure to remedy
the reported incident.
(10) Public schools and school districts are encouraged to form bullying prevention task
forces, programs and other initiatives involving school staff, pupils, administrators, volunteers,
parents, law enforcement and community members.
(11) Each school district or public school shall do all of the following:
(a) Provide training on the school district's or public school academy's harassment,
intimidation or bullying policies to school employees and volunteers who have significant contact
(b) Develop a process for discussing the harassment, intimidation or bullying policy with
(12) A school district or public school academy shall incorporate information regarding
the school district or public or private school academy's policy against harassment, intimidation
or bullying into each school's employee training program.
(13) This section does not prevent a victim from seeking redress under any other
available law, either civil or criminal. This section does not create or alter any tort liability.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect upon passage.