In recent years, the Connecticut legislature has passed various laws and amendments concerning bullying behavior and teen dating violence in schools. Consistent with this legislation, we are asking that parents/guardians immediately inform a school employee of suspected bullying behavior and/or teen dating violence.
If your child feels they are the target of bullying or teen dating violence or if your child has witnessed another student being bullied or the target of teen dating violence, please encourage your child to make a report. Bullying behavior and teen dating violence are prohibited by our Bullying Policy and our Student Discipline Policy and codes of conduct and may lead to disciplinary action for the perpetrator, including suspension from school or, in more severe cases, dismissal or expulsion.
If your child is uncomfortable coming forward to make a report, your child may request anonymity when making a report to a school official. In cases where a student requests anonymity after reporting to a school official, the Safe School Climate Specialist at your child’s school or that specialist’s designee will meet with your child to review the request for anonymity and discuss the impact that maintaining your child’s anonymity may have on the investigation and on any possible remedial action.
The district will review all anonymous reports and will take reasonable action to address the situation, to the extent action can be taken without revealing the identity of the student requesting anonymity, and consistent with the due process rights of the student(s) alleged to have committed acts of bullying. However, please note that under state law, the district is prohibited from taking disciplinary action against a student based solely on an anonymous report.
Whenever the district commences an investigation regarding bullying or teen dating violence, the law requires us to provide timely notice to the parents of the alleged target and to the parents of the alleged perpetrator. The law also requires us to notify the parents/guardians of students who commit any verified acts of bullying and the parents/guardians of students against whom such acts were directed no later than forty-eight (48) hours after the completion of the investigation.
We are also required by law to invite the parents/guardians of the perpetrator and the parents/guardians of the target of bullying/teen dating violence to separate and distinct meetings following the completion of the investigation. At these meetings, parents and guardians are informed of the District’s action steps to ensure the safety of students and procedures in place to prevent further acts of inappropriate behavior, within the protections specified by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act [FERPA]. Please understand FERPA puts strict limitations on the information that may be shared with you, particularly regarding any child other than your own.
We are fully aware that incidents of bullying or teen dating violence are rarely committed in view of the supervising adults. Targets are most vulnerable in situations beyond the eyes of staff members. The most likely adult to be informed by a target is the parent or guardian. While they are often reluctant to inform the school due to the student’s fear of reprisal, without parent/guardian input on these important matters, school personnel may be uninformed and, therefore, unable to intervene to stop the behavior. It is important that school employees and families continue to work together to maintain a safe environment and a positive school climate.
We thank you for your assistance with these important matters. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
Rachel M. Sexton
Assistant Superintendent/Safe School Climate District Coordinator
Branford’s Safe School Climate Plan can be accessed on the Branford Public Schools website under Parent Resources.