Introduction

  • Introduction

    The Falmouth Public Schools is committed to maintaining a school environment where students are free from bullying and cyber-bullying.  In accordance with the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Statute, M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, acts of bullying and cyber-bullying are prohibited:

      1. on school grounds, property immediately adjacent to school grounds, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, function or program whether on or off school grounds, at a school bus stop, on a school bus or other vehicle owned, leased or used by the school district, or through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the school district; and

      2. at a location, activity, function or program that is not school-related, or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased or used by the school district, if the acts:
    • create a hostile environment at school for the target;
    • infringe on the rights of the target at school; or
    • materially and substantially disrupt the education process or the orderly operation of the school.

    Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is also prohibited.

    Important Terms & Definitions

    Bullying, which includes cyber-bullying, is the repeated use by one or more students or by a member of a school staff including, but not limited to, an educator, administrator, school nurse, cafeteria worker, custodian, bus driver, athletic coach, advisor to an extracurricular activity, paraprofessional, or volunteer of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a target that:

      1. causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to their property;

      2. places the target in reasonable fear of harm to themselves or of damage to their property;

      3. creates a hostile environment at school for the target;

      4. infringes on the rights of the target at school; or

      5. materially and substantially disrupts the educational process or the orderly operation of the school.

    Cyber-bullying is bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages, or facsimile communications.

    Cyber-bullying also includes:

      1. the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person;

      2. the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated above in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying; or

      3. the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated above in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying.

    Hostile Environment is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of a student’s education.

    Aggressor is a student or staff member who engages in bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation.

    Target is a student against whom bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation has been perpetrated.

    Retaliation is any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment directed against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation about bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying.

    Please refer to the Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Statute, M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, as well as to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (“DESE’s”) Bullying Regulations, 603 CMR 49.00: Notification of Bullying or Retaliation Regulations - Education Laws and Regulations, for the statutory and regulatory definitions of the above terms, as well as for other statutory and regulatory terms and provisions that pertain to bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation.  Note that DESE’s Bullying Regulations and DESE’s Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan use the word “target” instead of “victim” and “aggressor” instead of “perpetrator” even though the statute,  M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, uses “victim” and “perpetrator.”  Falmouth Public Schools has chosen to do the same to be consistent with the language used by DESE.  

    Falmouth Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

    The Falmouth Public Schools will not tolerate any form of bullying, cyber-bullying, or retaliation.  The Falmouth Public Schools will promptly investigate all reports of bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation, and will take prompt action to end that behavior and restore a target's sense of safety in accordance with the provisions of the Falmouth Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan (“Plan”) which meets the requirements of  M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, and is modeled after DESE’s Model Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.  The Plan includes strategies for identifying, reporting, and responding to bullying.  

    The Falmouth Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan can be found here: updated link forthcoming.

    The Plan is a comprehensive approach to addressing bullying, cyber-bullying, and retaliation.  Principals are responsible for the implementation and oversight of the Plan at their respective schools except when a reported bullying incident involves the Principal or the Assistant Principal as the alleged aggressor.  In such cases, the Superintendent or their designee shall be responsible for investigating the report in accordance with the Plan.

    As required by M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, the Plan recognizes that certain students may be more vulnerable to becoming a target of bullying or harassment based on actual or perceived differentiating characteristics, including race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socioeconomic status, homelessness, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, pregnant or parenting status, sexual orientation, mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics.  Accordingly, the Plan includes specific steps that will be taken to support vulnerable students, and to provide all students with the skills, knowledge, and strategies needed to prevent or respond to bullying or harassment.

    Please also refer to the Falmouth School Committee’s Policy on Bullying Prevention which can be found in  Falmouth School Committee Policy JICFB - Bullying Prevention.