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Novato USD |  BP  5131.2  Students

Bullying - Harassment   

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The Board of Education recognizes the harmful effects of bullying on student learning and school attendance and desires to provide safe school environments that protect students from physical and emotional harm. District employees shall establish student safety as a high priority and shall not tolerate bullying of any student.

No student or group of students shall, through physical, written, verbal, or other means, harass, sexually harass, threaten, intimidate, cyberbully, cause bodily injury to, or commit hate violence against any other student or school personnel.

The Board of Education affirms the right of every student to attend a school that is safe and secure. Therefore, the district, schools, students, parents/guardians and community have an obligation to promote mutual respect and safe, harmonious relations that support dignity and equality. To that end, the school district has in place policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to reduce and eliminate discrimination, intimidation, bullying and harassment as well as processes and procedures to address incidents of discrimination, intimidation, bullying and harassment when they occur.

These policies and procedures must be disseminated annually to staff, students, and parents/guardians. These policies shall be publicized to students, parents, employees, agents of the governing board, and the general public.

The district will not tolerate discrimination, intimidation, harassment, bullying or any behavior that infringes on the safety or well-being of students, staff, or any other persons within the district's jurisdiction whether directed at an individual or group. This includes but is not limited to discrimination, intimidation, bullying or harassment based on actual or perceived characteristics and disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, color, creed, national origin, gender, language, physical or mental disability, political or religious ideology, physical appearance, or economic status. or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics. (Education Code 48900.2, 48900.3, and 48900.4, 234.1)



Bullying is defined as any severe or pervasive physical or verbal conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils that constitutes sex harassment, hate violence or creates an intimidating or hostile educational environment, directed toward one or more pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of one or more of the following:

1. Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that pupil's or those pupils' person or property.

2. Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health.

3. Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantial interference with his or her academic performance.

4. Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.

"Electronic act" is defined as the transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image, or post on a social network Internet Website, by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.

"Reasonable pupil" is defined as a pupil, including, but not limited to, an exceptional needs pupil, who exercises care, skill, and judgment in conduct for a person of his or her age, or for a person of his or her age with his or her exceptional needs. (Education Code 48900(r))

The school district has jurisdiction to respond to bullying behavior that is related to school activity or school attendance and that occurs at any time, including, but not limited to, while on school grounds, at a school sponsored activity, while traveling to or from school, on a school bus, or during the lunch period whether on or off campus. (Education Code 48900(s))

Indicators of Bullying Behavior

Bullying behaviors may include, but are not necessarily limited to, the following:

• Verbal: Hurtful name-calling, teasing, gossiping, making threats, making slurs or epithets, making rude noises, or spreading hurtful rumors.

• Nonverbal: Posturing, making gang signs, leering, staring, stalking, destroying property, insulting or threatening notes, using graffiti or graphic images, or exhibiting inappropriate and/or threatening gestures or actions.

• Physical: Hitting, punching, pushing, shoving, poking, kicking, tripping, strangling, hair pulling, fighting, beating, "pantsing", pinching, slapping, biting, spitting, or destroying property.

• Emotional (Psychological): Rejecting, terrorizing, extorting, defaming, intimidating, humiliating, blackmailing, manipulating friendships, isolating, shunning, ostracizing, using peer pressure, or rating or ranking personal characteristics.

• Cyber bullying: Bullying committed by means of an electronic act, the transmission of a communication, including but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including but limited to, a phone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager. Sending insulting or threatening messages by phone, e-mail, Web sites, or any other electronic or written communication. This policy pertains to cyberbullying that is related to school activity or attendance that occurs at any time, including, but not limited to, while on school grounds, while going to or coming from school, during the lunch period whether on or off campus, during, or while going to or coming from, a school sponsored activity, that is directed specifically toward a pupil or school personnel.

Penal Code 653.2 makes it a crime for a person to distribute personal identity information electronically with the intent to cause harassment by a third party and to threaten a person's safety or that of his/her family (e.g., placing a person's picture or address online so that he/she receives harassing messages). Penal Code 288.2 makes it a crime to send a message to a minor if the message contains matter that is sexual in nature with the intent of seducing the minor (i.e., sexting).

The Board recognizes that some acts of discrimination, bullying, harassment, or intimidation may be isolated and/or unintentional incidents requiring that the school respond appropriately to the individuals committing the acts. Other acts may indicate a larger pattern of discrimination, intimidation, harassment, or bullying that require a response either at the classroom, school site, or district levels or by law enforcement officials. Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for a student who commits an act of discrimination, intimidation, harassment, or bullying may range from behavioral intervention and education up to and including suspension or expulsion. This policy applies to all acts related to school activity or attendance occurring within a school under the jurisdiction of the superintendent of the school district.

In addition to the grounds specified in Education Code sections 48900, sections 48900.2, 48900.3, and 48900.4 provide additional authority to discipline a pupil in any of grades 4 to 12, inclusive for conduct that amounts to bullying. (Education Code 48900, 48900.2, 48900.3 and 48900.4)

Reporting Violations of this Policy

The principal or principal's designee at each school shall be responsible for receiving complaints alleging violations of this policy. All staff are expected to provide appropriate supervision to enforce standards of conduct and, if they observe or become aware of bullying or harassing behavior, to immediately intervene, call for assistance, and report such incidents. The Board requires that staff follow district and school procedures for reporting alleged acts of bullying.

All other members of the school community, including students, parents/guardians, volunteers, and visitors, are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy. While submission of the report form is not required, the reporting party is encouraged to use the report form available from the principal of each school or at the district office. Oral reports shall also be considered official reports. Reports may be made anonymously, but formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on an anonymous report. Prompt and reasonable investigation of alleged acts of bullying is expected.

Students are expected to report all incidents of bullying, teasing, or other verbal or physical abuse. Any student who feels she/he is a victim of such behavior should immediately contact a teacher, counselor, principal, or staff person. If the student who was bullied believes the situation has not been remedied, she/he may file a complaint in accordance with district procedures. Students are to be informed annually of the process by which they may make report of bullying or harassment.

Retaliation is Prohibited

Retaliation against a student because the student has filed a bullying complaint or assisted or participated in a bullying or harassment investigation or proceeding is also prohibited. Students who knowingly file false bullying or harassment complaints or give false statements in an investigation shall be subject to discipline by measures up to and including suspension and expulsion, as shall any student who is found to have retaliated against another in violation of this policy.


An allegation of bullying that involves sexual harassment, and the results of the investigation, shall be kept confidential to the extent reasonably possible.

(cf. 3515.4 - Recovery for Property Loss or Damage)

(cf. 5137 - Positive School Climate)

(cf. 5131.5 - Vandalism, Theft, and Graffiti)

(cf. 5144.1 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)

(cf. 5144.2 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process (Students with Disabilities))

(cf. 5145.3 - Nondiscrimination/Harassment)

(cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment)

(cf. 5145.9 - Hate-Motivated Behavior)

Legal Reference:


200-262.4 Prohibition of discrimination

32282 Comprehensive safety plan

35181 Governing board policy on responsibilities of students

35291-35291.5 Rules

48900-48925 Suspension or expulsion

48985 Translation of notices


647 Use of camera or other instrument to invade person's privacy; misdemeanor

647.7 Use of camera or other instrument to invade person's privacy; punishment

653.2 Electronic communication devices, threats to safety


254 Universal service discounts (e-rate)


J.C. v. Beverly Hills Unified School District, (2010) 711 F.Supp.2d 1094

Lavine v. Blaine School District, (2002) 279 F.3d 719

Management Resources:


Safe Schools: Strategies for Governing Boards to Ensure Student Success, 2011

Providing a Safe, Nondiscriminatory School Environment for All Students, Policy Brief, April 2010

Cyberbullying: Policy Considerations for Boards, Policy Brief, July 2007


Health Education Content Standards for California Public Schools: Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve, 2008

Bullying at School, 2003


Dear Colleague Letter: Harassment and Bullying, October 2010



California Cybersafety for Children:

California Department of Education, Safe Schools Office:

Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use:

National School Boards Association:

National School Safety Center:

U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights:


adopted: May 19, 2009 Novato, California

revised: November 17, 2009

revised: June 15, 2010

revised: February 5, 2013