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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

To:
To: Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
June 13, 2014

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Update on Department's Activity Related to Student Discipline and Bullying Prevention and Intervention

This memorandum updates the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on Department activity related to the student discipline law and regulations as well as recent amendments to the anti-bullying law. We are working with the field to assist in effective implementation of these laws.

Student Discipline

The discipline-related provisions of Chapter 222 of the Acts of 2012 take effect on July 1, 2104. Per the statute, the Board adopted Student Discipline Regulations, 603 CMR 46.00, in April, and the regulations also take effect on July 1, 2014. The Department has created the Student Discipline web page to provide schools with resources and information related to the law. We will be posting additional guidance for school administrators and a Frequently Asked Questions document in the coming weeks.

Bullying Prevention and Intervention

This spring, Governor Patrick signed into law Chapter 86 of the Acts of 2014, which amended G.L. c. 71, §37O, the anti-bullying statute. The amendments include the following requirements:

  • In their bullying prevention and intervention plans, schools and districts must recognize that certain students may be more vulnerable to becoming targets of bullying or harassment based on actual or perceived differentiating characteristics, and identify specific steps to support vulnerable students and provide all students with skills, knowledge, and strategies to prevent or respond to bullying.
  • Principals or their designees must notify the parents or guardians of a target of bullying about the Department's problem resolution system, and assist them in understanding the problem resolution process. (Information about the problem resolution system is posted on our website. The Department has handled several bullying complaints from parents through this process since the original anti-bullying law was enacted in 2010.)
  • School districts, charter schools, collaborative schools, and approved private day and residential schools must annually collect and report data to the Department on reported allegations of bullying or retaliation; the number and nature of substantiated incidents of bullying or retaliation; the number of students disciplined for engaging in bullying or retaliation; and other information required by the Department.
  • The Department must develop a student survey to assess school climate and the prevalence, nature, and severity of bullying in schools and use the data to help assess the effectiveness of bullying prevention curricula and instruction.
  • School districts, charter schools, collaborative schools, and approved private day or residential schools must administer the survey at least once every four years.

The Department has amended its Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan to reflect the changes in the law. It will be available on the Department's webpage dedicated to bullying prevention and intervention resources.

At the Board's special meeting on June 23, Associate Commissioner John Bynoe will present further details about our work related to the implementation of these laws.



Last Updated: June 17, 2014
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