Senate Bill No. 446
(By Senators Stollings, Foster, Jenkins, Klempa, Green, Beach, Wills, Yost and Plymale)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported February 24, 2012.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §18-2C-2, §18-2C-3 and §18-2C-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, all relating to harassment, intimidation or bullying of students in public schools; adding elements to definition of “harassment, intimidation or bullying”; and expressing that certain statutory provisions, policy, training and education does not infringe upon first amendment rights of certain persons and does not prohibit expression of religious, philosophical or political views so long as the expression does not cause a material disruption of the work of the school.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §18-2C-2, §18-2C-3 and §18-2C-5 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 2C. HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION OR BULLYING PROHIBITION.
(a) As used in this article, “harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any intentional gesture, or any intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, communication, transmission or threat that:
(1) A reasonable person under the circumstances should know will have the effect of any one or more of the following:
(A) Physically harming a student;
(B) Damaging a student’s property;
(C) Placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person; or
(D) Placing a student in reasonable fear of damage to his or her property; or
(2) Is sufficiently severe, persistent continuous or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, threatening or emotionally abusive educational environment for a student such that it interferes with or limits a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or opportunities offered by a school; or (3) materially and substantially Disrupts or interferes with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the orderly operation of the school.
(b) As used in this article, an electronic act, communication, transmission or threat includes, but is not limited to, one which is administered via telephone, wireless phone, computer, pager or any electronic or wireless device whatsoever and includes, but is not limited to, transmission of any image or voice, email or text message using any such device.
(c) Nothing in this section prohibits expression of religious, philosophical or political views of any person so long as the expression does not violate the provisions of subsection (a) of this section.
§18-2C-3. Policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying.
(a) Each county board shall establish a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying. Each county board has control over the content of its policy as long as the policy contains, at a minimum, the requirements of subdivision subsection (b) of this section. The policy shall be adopted through a process that includes representation of parents or guardians, school employees, school volunteers, students and community members.
(b) Each county board policy shall, at a minimum, include the following components:
(1) A statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying of any student on school property, a school bus, at a school bus stop or at school sponsored events;
(2) A definition of harassment, intimidation or bullying that is no less inclusive and contains no further restrictions on any person’s speech than that in section two of this article;
(3) A procedure for reporting prohibited incidents;
(4) A requirement that school personnel report prohibited incidents of which they are aware;
(5) A requirement that parents or guardians of any student involved in an incident prohibited pursuant to this article be notified;
(6) A procedure for documenting any prohibited incident that is reported;
(7) A procedure for responding to and investigating any reported incident;
(8) A strategy for protecting a victim from additional harassment, intimidation or bullying and from retaliation following a report;
(9) A disciplinary procedure for any student guilty of harassment, intimidation or bullying;
(10) A requirement that any information relating to a reported incident is confidential and exempt from disclosure under the provisions of chapter twenty-nine-b of this code; and
(11) A requirement that each county board shall input into the uniform integrated regional computer information system (commonly known as the West Virginia Education Information System) described in section twenty-six, article two of this chapter and compile an annual report regarding the means of harassment, intimidation or bullying that have been reported to them and the reasons therefor, if known. The West Virginia Department of Education shall compile the information and report it annually beginning July 1, 2012, to the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability; and
(c) Each county board shall adopt the policy and submit a copy to the State Superintendent of Schools by December 1, 2011 2012.
(d) To assist county boards in developing their policies, the West Virginia Department of Education shall develop a model policy applicable to grades kindergarten through twelfth. The model policy shall be issued by September 1, 2011 2012.
(e) Notice of the county board’s policy shall appear in any student handbook and in any county board publication that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for the school.
§18-2C-5. Policy training and education.
(a) Schools and county boards are encouraged, but not required, to form bullying prevention task forces, programs and other initiatives involving school staff, students, teachers, administrators, volunteers, parents, law enforcement and community members.
(b) To the extent state or federal funds are appropriated for these purposes, each school district shall:
(1) Provide training on the harassment, intimidation or bullying policy to school employees and volunteers who have direct contact with students; and
(2) Develop a process for educating students on the harassment, intimidation or bullying policy.
(c) Information regarding the county board policy against harassment, intimidation or bullying shall be incorporated into each school’s current employee training program.
(d) Training or education under this section shall not prohibit expression of religious, philosophical or political views of any person so long as the expression does not violate the provisions of section two of this article.