Bullying Prevention and Intervention

Updates to Bullying Prevention and Intervention

GMRSD Bullying Plan Updates and State-Mandated Changes
January 31, 2023

In accordance with Chapter 86 of the Acts of 2016, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has provided guidance to schools on the use of a model bullying prevention and intervention plan that includes updated language and provisions in a couple of key areas that are summarized numerically below. In addition, GMRSD policy of non-discrimination extends to students, staff, and the public with whom it does business. The Gill-Montague Regional School District does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, economic status, homelessness, political party, or disability in admission to, access to, employment in, or treatment by its programs and activities. We are adding this statement of non-discrimination to update district documents.

  1. Professional Development, Student Training & Curriculum Analysis- Driven by one of our 3-year District Goals on Equity & Inclusion, updates to our district Bullying Prevention & Intervention Plan include a variety of training and program evaluation initiatives. Faculty, staff, and administration are evaluating our Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum, with the goal of refining the Elementary SEL curriculum for the 2023-2024 school year. Thirty high school students have been trained by Quabbin Mediation to implement a Training Active Bystanders curriculum, where trained high school students teach middle school students how to be active bystanders. The ninth grade Advisory curriculum has been updated to include a viewing of the film I'm not Racist…Am I? with trained staff and students facilitating discussion about topics in the film. Teachers, administrators, and school committee members are also participating in the Culturally Responsive Practices Leadership Academy. This three-year grant-funded program is designed, in part, to expand our district capacity to recognize interactions, as well as elements of the climate and culture which might impact vulnerable populations and make recommendations for changes in policy, practice, reporting and data management structures to improve the academic and social environment for all students.
  2. Vulnerable Populations and Protections- Recognition that certain students may be more vulnerable to bullying. Special considerations for vulnerable populations are identified within our existing Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan and will continue to be in place in our updated plan.
  3. Data Collection and Reporting Requirements- DESE has added data collection and reporting requirements that include: at least once every four years beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the district will administer a DESE-developed student survey to assess school climate and the prevalence, nature, and severity of bullying in our schools. Additionally, the school or district will annually report bullying incident data to DESE. DESE will use survey results to, among other things, assess the effectiveness of bullying prevention curricula and instruction and identify long-term trends and areas of improvement, and will make its findings available to school officials. GMRSD administers a DESE developed school climate survey annually and completes the school safety and discipline report annually for each school as is required. Lastly, the law also authorizes school districts, charter schools, approved private day or residential schools, and collaborative schools to adopt an anti-bullying seal to represent its commitment to bullying prevention and intervention. At this time, GMRSD has not adopted an anti-bullying seal and would like to gather stakeholder feedback on this option.
  4. Problem Resolution System: District bullying prevention and intervention plans shall inform parents or guardians of the target about DESE's problem resolution system and the process for seeking assistance or filing a claim through the problem resolution system. The principal or designee shall inform the parent or guardian of the target about the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s problem resolution system and the process for accessing that system, regardless of the outcome of the bullying determination. GMRSD will be adding this information into our revised district plan. This information will be made available in both hard copy and electronic format. Any parent wishing to file a claim/concern or seeking assistance outside of the district may do so with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Program Resolution System (PRS). That information can be found at: http://www.doe.mass.edu/pqa, emails can be sent to compliance@doe.mass.edu or individuals can call 781-338-3700. Hard copies of this information are also available at the Superintendent’s Office.
  5. DEFINITIONS- Some of the definitions within our existing GMRSD bullying prevention plan are not fully up to date. Our updated plan will include updated definitions as indicated below that are consistent in scope and meaning with the DESE model plan and those defined directly from M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, as noted below. Our updated GMRSD plan may offer additional clarifying language in accordance with local policies and procedures that do not alter their meaning or scope of the following definitions.

Aggressor is a student or a member of a school staff who engages in bullying, cyberbullying, or retaliation towards a student.

Bullying, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is the repeated use by one or more students or a member of a school staff 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 the target’s property;
  2. places the target in reasonable fear of harm to himself or herself or of damage to his or her 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 education process or the orderly operation of a school.

Cyber­bullying is bullying through the use of technology or electronic devices such as telephones, cell phones, computers, and the Internet. It includes, but is not limited to, email, instant messages, text messages, and Internet postings. See M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O for the legal definition of cyberbullying.

Hostile environment, as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 37O, is a situation in which bullying causes the school environment to be permeated with intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of a student’s education.

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

School Staff includes, but is not limited to, educators, administrators, counselors, school nurses, cafeteria workers, custodians, bus drivers, athletic coaches, advisors to extracurricular activities, support staff, or paraprofessionals.

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


Original GMRSD Bullying Prevention Plan

GMRSD Incident Reporting and Investigation Form