Bullying Prevention and Intervention Resources
Implementation Timelines for Bullying Prevention and Intervention Planning for the Start of the 2010-2011 School Year
Superintendents, Directors of Charter Schools, Directors of Approved Private Special Education Schools, Directors of Educational Collaboratives, and Headmasters of Non-Public Schools
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D.
Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education
September 20, 2010
As the school year gets underway, public and non-public school leaders are working to implement the requirements of the new bullying prevention and intervention law, M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, as added by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010. 1 The Department believes strongly that bullying prevention and intervention strategies will be most effective when they are part of a broader approach by schools and districts to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for students.
The purpose of this memorandum is to review the timelines for implementing the requirements of the new law, and to describe the information that schools and districts must have in place at the start of the 2010-2011 school year. Appendices A and B of the memorandum are draft summaries of the law that districts and schools may distribute to students, families, and teachers, and may include as addenda to student and staff handbooks. This information should be updated to reflect schools' and districts' Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans when they are finalized.
Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans
The law requires each school district, charter school, non-public school, Department-approved private special education school, and collaborative school to create a Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (Plan) that prohibits bullying, cyberbullying, and retaliation. (M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O.)
Schools and districts may use the Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan published by the Department as a blueprint for developing local Plans that align with their own school climate initiatives. The Model Plan is available on the Department's website at Memo:Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan under M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O.
Processes for creating the local Plan, and for providing for public notice and comment periods should be underway.
School districts, charter schools, Department-approved private special education schools, and collaborative schools must submit their Plans to the Department by December 31, 2010. Schools and districts may use the designated dropbox in the Security Portal to submit the local Plan, 2 or email the Plan to the Department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Non-special education private schools are not to submit their Plans to the Department.
Amending Student Handbooks
Public schools (including charter schools and collaboratives) must amend school handbooks to include an age-appropriate summary of their new Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan. (M.G.L. c. 71, §37H, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010.)
For the start of the school year, if student handbooks are already printed without the required information, schools and districts should prepare an age-appropriate summary of the Plan to be distributed to students and families as an addendum to the student handbook.
If the Plan is not yet final, schools and districts should prepare a general summary of key aspects of the new law, including prohibitions against bullying and retaliation, definitions, and information about how and to whom students and parents can report bullying. Distribute this information to students and parents, and post it on the school's/district's website.
Update this summary with specific information from the Plan once it's finalized. Include the Plan summary in the next edition of the student handbook.
See Attachment A for suggested language.
Each year, all school districts and schools must give parents and guardians annual written notice of the student-related sections of the local Plan. (M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(e)(1).)
The Plan summary that the school or district uses to meet the student handbook requirement may be used to fulfill the requirement to provide parents with annual written notice of the Plan.
Distribute this information to students and parents, and post it on the school's/district's website. Translate the information into other languages as appropriate.
See Attachment A for recommended language.
Amending Staff Handbooks
Each school district, charter school, non-public school, Department-approved private day or residential school, and collaborative school must provide all staff with annual written notice of the Plan.
School and district employee handbooks must contain relevant sections of the Plan relating to the duties of faculty and staff. (M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(e)(2).)
For the start of the school year, if the handbook is already printed without the required information, prepare a summary of the Plan to be distributed to staff as an addendum to the employee handbook.
If the Plan is not yet final, prepare a general summary of key aspects of the new law and definitions. Include information about staff requirements under the law, including what staff must do if they see or become aware of an incident of bullying or retaliation.
Update this summary with specific information from the Plan once it's finalized. Include the Plan summary in the next edition of the employee handbook.
See Attachment B for recommended language.
All schools and school districts must implement, for all school staff, professional development that includes developmentally appropriate strategies for bullying prevention and intervention, research findings on bullying, and information on cyberbullying and Internet safety. (See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O(d).)
Professional development is required for all school and district staff, including but not limited to educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, and paraprofessionals.
School districts and schools must include information about professional development in their local Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plans.
At the beginning of the school year, schools or districts should provide general training or information to staff about the requirements of the bullying prevention and intervention law, and what staff must do if they see or hear about bullying, even if the Plan is not finalized.
Work now on putting into place plans for conducting the required professional development during the 2010-2011 school year.
The Department looks forward to working with you to implement this important law. For additional information, you may contact the Department's Nutrition, Health, and Safety Programs unit at 781-338-6498.
1 The law, in its entirety, is available at Session Laws: Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010, or in the Massachusetts General Laws.
2 To submit information to the Department through this new DropBox, local Directory Administrators must be assigned the "Bullying Prevention and Invention Plan DropBox" role in the Security Portal's Directory Administration area. Schools without a Directory Administrator should contact the Department's data collection group at 781-338-3282.