Below is the model bullying policy made available by the Vermont State Department of Education for school districts within Vermont to use when crafting their own bullying and cyberbullying policies. Each state’s policies vary when it comes to how they: define bullying, harassment, threats, intimidation, and violence; expect reporting and investigating to be carried out, specify response strategies, define penalties, and prescribe certain types of prevention programs and practices.
We recommend that you review and consider updating your own bullying policy on an annual basis with input from educators, administrators, counselors, mental health professionals, parents, and students themselves. That will optimize the likelihood that the policy you implement achieves its goals.
Last Updated: August 7, 2019
URL of Source: https://education.vermont.gov/documents/healthy-safe-schools-hhb-model-policy
Policy on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students
- Statement of Policy
The [INSERT] School District (hereinafter “District”) is committed to providing all of its students with a safe and supportive school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with respect.
It is the policy of the District to prohibit the unlawful harassment of students based on race, color, religion, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Harassment may also constitute a violation of Vermont’s Public Accommodations Act,Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and/or Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972.
It is also the policy of the District to prohibit the unlawful hazing and bullying of students. Conduct which constitutes hazing may be subject to civil penalties.
The District shall address all complaints of harassment, hazing and bullying according to the procedures accompanying this policy, and shall take appropriate action against any person – subject to the jurisdiction of the board – who violates this policy. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit punishment of a student for conduct which, although it does not rise to the level of harassment, bullying, or hazing as defined herein, otherwise violates one or more of the board’s disciplinary policies or the school’s code of conduct.
The Model Procedures are expressly incorporated by reference as though fully included within this Model Policy. The Model Procedures are separated from the policy for ease of use as may be required.
The superintendent or his/her designee shall:
- Adopt a procedure directing staff, parents and guardians how to report violations of this policy and file complaints under this policy. (See Model Procedures on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students)
- Annually, select two or more designated employees to receive complaints of hazing, bullying and/or harassment at each school campus and publicize their availability in any publication of the District that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school.
- Designate an Equity Coordinator to oversee all aspects of the implementation of this policy as it relates to obligations imposed by federal law regarding discrimination. This role may be also be assigned to one or both of the Designated Employees.
- Respond to notifications of possible violations of this policy in order to promptly and effectively address all complaints of hazing, harassment, and/or bullying.
- Take action on substantiated complaints. In cases where hazing, harassment and/or bullying is substantiated, the District shall take prompt and appropriate remedial action reasonably calculated to stop the hazing, harassment and/or bullying; prevent its recurrence; and to remedy the impact of the offending conduct on the victim(s), where appropriate. Such action may include a wide range of responses from education to serious discipline.
Serious discipline may include termination for employees and, for students, expulsion or removal from school property. It may also involve penalties or sanctions for both organizations and individuals who engage in hazing. Revocation or suspension of an organization’s permission to operate or exist within the District’s purview may also be considered if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes or condones hazing.
- Constitutionally Protected Speech
It is the intent of the District to apply and enforce this policy in a manner that is consistent with student rights to free expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The purpose of this policy is to (1) prohibit conduct or communication that is directed at a person’s protected characteristics as defined below and that has the purpose or effect of substantially disrupting the educational learning process and/or access to educational resources or creates a hostile learning environment; (2) prohibit conduct intended to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate students in a manner as defined under this policy.
- For the purposes of this policy and the accompanying procedures, the following definitions apply:
- “Bullying” means any overt act or combination of acts, including an act conducted by electronic means, directed against a student by another student or group of students and which:
- Is repeated over time;
- Is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and
- (i) occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school sponsored activity; or
(ii) does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus or at a school sponsored activity and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s right to access educational programs.
- “Complaint” means an oral or written report information provided by a student or any person to an employee alleging that a student has been subjected to conduct that may rise to the level of hazing, harassment or bullying.
- “Complainant” means a student who has provided oral or written information about conduct that may rise to the level of hazing, harassment or bullying, or a student who is the target of alleged hazing, harassment or bullying.
- “Designated employee” means an employee who has been designated by the school to receive complaints of hazing, harassment and bullying pursuant to subdivision 16 V.S.A. 570a(a)(7). The designated employees for each school building are identified in Appendix A of this policy.
- “Employee” includes any person employed directly by or retained through a contract with the District, an agent of the school, a school board member, a student teacher, an intern or a school volunteer. For purposes of this policy, “agent of the school” includes supervisory union staff.
- “Equity Coordinator” is the person responsible for implementation of Title IX (regarding sex-based discrimination) and Title VI (regarding race-based discrimination) for the District and for coordinating the District’s compliance with Title IX and Title VI in all areas covered by the implementing regulations. The Equity Coordinator is also responsible for overseeing implementation of the District’s Preventing and Responding to Harassment of Students and Harassment of Employees policies. This role may also be assigned to Designated Employees.
- “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating hostile, or offensive environment.
Harassment includes conduct as defined above and may also constitute one or more of the following:
- Sexual harassment, which means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, that includes sexual violence/sexual assault, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, written, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, and includes situations when one or both of the following occur:
(i) Submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student’s education, academic status, or progress; or
(ii) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as a component of the basis for decisions affecting that student.
Sexual harassment may also include student-on-student conduct or conduct of a non-employee third party that creates a hostile environment. A hostile environment exists where the harassing conduct is severe, persistent or pervasive so as to deny or limit the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program on the basis of sex.
- Racial harassment, which means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race or color, and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, racial slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, and taunts on manner of speech and negative references to cultural customs.
- Harassment of members of other protected categories, means conduct directed at the characteristics of a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived creed, national origin, marital status, disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity and includes the use of epithets, stereotypes, slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display, or circulation of written or visual material, taunts on manner of speech, and negative references to customs related to any of these protected categories.
- “Hazing” means any intentional, knowing or reckless act committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with others, against another student: In connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with the educational institution; and
- Which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, endangering the mental or physical health of the student.
Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extra-curricular, or military training program goals, provided that:
- The goals are approved by the educational institution; and
- The activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.
With respect to Hazing, “Student” means any person who:
(A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution;
(B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or
(C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after an official academic break.
- “Notice” means a written complaint or oral information that hazing, harassment or bullying may have occurred which has been provided to a designated employee from another employee, the student allegedly subjected to the hazing, harassment or bullying, another student, a parent or guardian, or any other individual who has reasonable cause to believe the alleged conduct may have occurred. If the school learns of possible hazing, harassment or bullying through other means, for example, if information about hazing, harassment or bullying is received from a third party (such as from a witness to an incident or an anonymous letter or telephone call), different factors will affect the school’s response. These factors include the source and nature of the information; the seriousness of the alleged incident; the specificity of the information; the objectivity and credibility of the source of the report; whether any individuals can be identified who were subjected to the alleged harassment; and whether those individuals want to pursue the matter. In addition, for purposes of violations of federal anti-discrimination laws, notice may occur when an employee of the district, including any individual who a student could reasonably believe has this authority or responsibility, knows or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known about potential unlawful harassment or bullying.
- “Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or other similar group, whose members primarily are students at an educational institution, and which is affiliated with the educational institution.
- “Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.
- “Retaliation” is any adverse action by any person against a person who has filed a complaint of harassment, hazing or bullying or against a person who assists or participates in an investigation, proceeding or hearing related to the harassment complaint. Such adverse action may include conduct by a school employee directed at a student in the form of intimidation or reprisal such as diminishment of grades, suspension, expulsion, change in educational conditions, loss of privileges or benefits, or other unwarranted disciplinary action. Retaliation may also include conduct by a student directed at another student in the form of further harassment, intimidation, and reprisal.
- “School administrator” means a superintendent, principal or his/her designee assistant principal//technical center director or his/her designee and/or the District’s Equity Coordinator.
- “Student Conduct Form“ is a form used by students, staff, or parents, to provide, in written form, information about inappropriate student behaviors that may constitute hazing, harassment and/or bullying.
The following employees of the _______________________ School have been designated by the District to receive complaints of bullying and/or harassment pursuant to this policy and 16 V.S.A. § 570a(a)(7) and 16 V.S.A. §570c(7) and under federal anti discrimination laws;
Contact Information: ____________________________________________________
Contact Information: ___________________________________________________
Subchapter 005 : Harassment
(Cite as: 16 V.S.A. § 570)
- 570. Harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies
(a) State policy. It is the policy of the State of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing, and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school.
(b) Prevention policies. Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies that shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the Secretary. Any school board that fails to adopt one or more of these policies shall be presumed to have adopted the most current model policy or policies published by the Secretary.
(c) Notice. Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this subchapter to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members, including reference to the consequences of misbehavior contained in the plan required by section 1161a of this title. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment, hazing, and bullying. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school. The school board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, hazing, and bullying. School boards are encouraged to foster opportunities for conversations between and among students regarding tolerance and respect.
(d) Duties of the Secretary. The Secretary shall:
(1) develop and, from time to time, update model harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies; and
(2) establish an Advisory Council to review and coordinate school and statewide activities relating to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing, and bullying. The Council shall report annually in January to the State Board and the House and Senate Committees on Education. The Council shall include:
(A) the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals’ Association or designee;
(B) the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;
(C) the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;
(D) the President of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee;
(E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee;
(F) the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and
(G) other members selected by the Secretary, at least one of whom shall be a current secondary student who has witnessed or experienced harassment, hazing, or bullying in the school environment.
(e) Definitions. In this subchapter:
(1) “Educational institution” and “school” mean a public school or an approved or recognized independent school as defined in section 11 of this title.
(2) “Organization,” “pledging,” and “student” have the same meanings as in section 570i of this title.
(3) “Harassment,” “hazing,” and “bullying” have the same meanings as in subdivisions 11(a)(26), (30), and (32) of this title.
(4) “School board” means the board of directors or other governing body of an educational institution when referring to an independent school. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2011, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72.)
Subchapter 005 : Harassment
(Cite as: 16 V.S.A. § 570c)
- 570c. Bullying
The bullying prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:
(1) a statement that bullying, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(32) of this title, is prohibited;
(2) a procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints;
(3) a procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints;
(4) a description of the circumstances under which bullying may be reported to a law enforcement agency;
(5) consequences and appropriate remedial action for students who commit bullying;
(6) a description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to bullying; and
(7) annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure both for publicizing the availability of those people and clarifying that their designation does not preclude a student from bringing a complaint to any adult in the building. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012.)
 Throughout this model policy and the related procedures, “District” shall apply to Independent Schools and should be substituted as appropriate. References to the Superintendent shall equate to “Head of School” or “Headmaster” as appropriate, with regard to Independent Schools. Where language suggests a “District” will take action, it shall be the Superintendent, the Head of School, the Headmaster or his/her designee.