TITLE 16
Education

CHAPTER 16-21
Health and Safety of Pupils

SECTION 16-21-34


   § 16-21-34  Statewide bullying policy implemented. – (a) The Rhode Island department of education shall prescribe by regulation a statewide bullying policy, ensuring a consistent and unified, statewide approach to the prohibition of bullying at school. The statewide policy shall apply to all schools that are approved for the purpose of § 16-9-1 and shall contain the following:

   (1) Descriptions of and statements prohibiting bullying, cyber-bullying and retaliation of school;

   (2) Clear requirements and procedures for students, staff, parents, guardians and others to report bullying or retaliation;

   (3) A provision that reports of bullying or retaliation may be made anonymously; provided, however, that no disciplinary action shall be taken against a student solely on the basis of an anonymous report;

   (4) Clear procedures for promptly responding to and investigating reports of bullying or retaliation;

   (5) The range of disciplinary actions that may be taken against a perpetrator for bullying or retaliation; provided, however, that the disciplinary actions shall balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior; and provided, further:

   (i) A parental engagement strategy; and

   (ii) A provision that states punishments for violations of the bullying policy shall be determined by the school's appropriate authority; however, no student shall be suspended from school unless it is deemed a necessary consequence of the violations;

   (6) Clear procedures for restoring a sense of safety for a victim and assessing that victim's needs for protection;

   (7) Strategies for protecting from bullying or retaliation a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying or witnesses or has reliable information about an act of bullying;

   (8) Procedures for promptly notifying the parents or guardians of a victim and a perpetrator; provided, further, that the parents or guardians of a victim shall also be notified of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation; and provided, further, that the procedures shall provide for immediate notification of the local law enforcement agency when criminal charges may be pursued against the perpetrator;

   (9) A provision that a student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying or retaliation shall be subject to disciplinary action;

   (10) A strategy for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services currently being offered by schools or communities for perpetrators and victims and for appropriate family members of said students. The plan shall afford all students the same protection regardless of their status under the law;

   (11) A provision that requires a principal or designee to be responsible for the implementation and oversight of the bullying policy;

   (12) Provisions for informing parents and guardians about the bullying policy of the school district or school shall include, but not be limited to:

   (i) A link to the policy prominently posted on the home page of the school district's website and distributed annually to parents and guardians of students;

   (ii) A provision for notification, within twenty-four (24) hours, of the incident report, to the parents or guardians of the victim of bullying and parents or guardians of the alleged perpetrator of the bullying;

   (13) A school employee, school volunteer, student, parent, legal guardian, or relative caregiver who promptly reports, in good faith, an act of bullying to the appropriate school official designated in the school's policy is immune from a cause of action for damages arising from reporting bullying;

   (14) 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;

   (15) Students shall be prohibited from accessing social networking sites at school, except for educational or instructional purposes and with the prior approval from school administration. Nothing in this act shall prohibit students from using school department or school websites for educational purposes. School districts and schools are encouraged to provide in-service training on Internet safety for students, faculty and staff; and

   (16) All school districts, charter schools, career and technical schools, approved private day or residential schools and collaborative schools shall be subject to the requirements of this section. School districts and schools must adopt the statewide bullying policy promulgated pursuant to this section by June 30, 2012.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2011, ch. 162, § 3; P.L. 2011, ch. 178, § 3.)