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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Final Regulations Regarding Notification of Bullying or Retaliation, 603 CMR 49.00

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
Date:
September 15, 2010

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At the June 22, 2010 meeting, the Board voted to solicit public comment on proposed new regulations governing notification of bullying and retaliation to parents and law enforcement agencies under G.L. c. 71, section 37O, the bullying prevention and intervention statute. We received a number of comments. The letters of comment are enclosed for your information, along with a table summarizing the comments and our responses. Based on the feedback we received, I am proposing a number of changes to the proposed regulations and recommend that the Board vote to adopt them as final regulations at the meeting on September 21st.

The major revisions from the June proposed regulations are as follows:

  • 49.03 - Definitions and Terms. The words "victim" and "perpetrator" are replaced with "target" and "aggressor" which are terms often used in bullying literature and research. The definition of "retaliation" is revised to conform to the anti-bullying statute, and definitions of "hostile environment" and "school" are added for clarity.
  • 49.04(2) - Bullying and Retaliation Prohibited. Several comments recommended that we clarify that the school's authority to regulate bullying in non-school related contexts (i.e., through the use of personal computers or at non-school sponsored activities) extends only to incidents that have an adverse impact on the school setting. The revised regulation does so and mirrors the statutory language.
  • 49.05(1) - Notice to Parents. The regulation has been revised, consistent with the statute, to require notice to parents after the principal determines that bullying or retaliation has occurred rather than upon receipt of a report of bullying or retaliation. Comments observed that requiring notification before a determination has been made could unduly burden principals and cause unnecessary stress to parents. The principal still has discretion to contact parents at any time.
  • 49.06(1) - Notice to Law Enforcement Agency. This new provision requires communication between the superintendent or school leader and local law enforcement before the start of the school year to discuss implementation of the notice provision.
  • 49.06(2)(a) - Notice to Law Enforcement Agency. The provision includes new language clarifying that school officials are not required to notify law enforcement if they conclude that the incident can be handled appropriately within the school.
  • 49.06(2)(b) - Notice to Law Enforcement Agency. Under this provision, the principal has discretion to consult with any individual, including the school resource officer, in deciding whether or not to notify local law enforcement. This is a change from the proposed regulation which mandated consultation with the school resource officer.

Some of the comments suggested that we include in the regulations language from the Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (Model Plan) that the Department was required to produce under G.L. c. 71, §37O. We developed the Model Plan in collaboration with other organizations and individuals and published it on August 25, 2010. The Model Plan is posted on our website and a copy is enclosed for your information. It will assist school districts, charter schools, collaborative schools, approved private day and residential special education schools, and non-public schools in developing local plans that reflect the letter and spirit of G.L. c, 71, §37O. We agree with the suggestions to align the regulations and Model Plan and have done so where appropriate.

Comments also suggest the need for guidance and technical assistance in areas such as notifying law enforcement of incidents of bullying and retaliation; new requirements to address bullying issues in Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and Team meetings for students with disabilities who may be vulnerable to, or engage in, bullying; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth as frequent targets of bullying. We plan to solicit further input and provide additional guidance and technical assistance in these areas.

Associate Commissioner John Bynoe, Associate Commissioner Carole Thomson, Special Projects Coordinator Teri Williams Valentine, Executive Director Kathleen Millett, and Associate General Counsel Dianne Curran will be available at the Board meeting to answer any questions.

Attachments:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(1)Proposed Final Regulations (clean copy)
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(2)Proposed Final Regulations (with changes tracked)
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(3) Summary and Analysis of Comments from the Public
(4) Comment Letters
Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
(5) Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan
(6) Motion to Adopt Regulations


Last Updated: September 16, 2010
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