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Keeping Students Safe from Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying

October is National Bullying Awareness Month and Kent School District is committed to keeping our students safe from harassment, intimidation, and bullying.  

We are also participating in Unity Day, a national event on October 24 to promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion in our schools. Join us by wearing orange and using #KSDUnity to share your photos on social media.  

What is bullying? 

We define harassment, intimidation, and bullying as intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act that:  

  • Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property. 
  • Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education. 
  • Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment.
  • Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school. 

Conflict is inevitable, harassment, intimidation, and bullying are not. 

Conflict is a natural part of life. People view things differently, have disagreements, treat each other mean at times. It is important not to label conflict/fighting as bullying. Schools use these guidelines to help determine if this is a conflict or a situation of HIB.  

Please note that the school will take action in both cases. 

Conflict/Fighting Behaviors:  

  • Between Friends/Equals/Peers 
  • Spontaneous/Occasional  
  • Accidental/Not Planned  
  • Little or No Serious/Lasting Harm  
  • Equal Emotional Reaction to the Incident  
  • Not Done for Domination/Control  
  • Sense of Remorse  
  • Desire to Solve the Problem 

Bullying Behaviors:

  • Not Friends/Imbalance of Power 
  • Repeated Over Time 
  • Intentional  
  • Physical/Emotional Harm  
  • Unequal Emotional Reaction to the Incident  
  • Seeking Control/Possession/Domination 
  • No Remorse, Blames the Target 
  • No Effort to Solve the Problem 

Watch for our video on conflict and bullying coming later this month.  

What are we teaching students to help end bullying? 

Our social-emotional learning curriculum, taught at all grade levels, helps students develop skills to solve conflicts and promote kindness, acceptance, and inclusion in our schools. 

Second Step: A program designed to teach developmentally appropriate social-emotional skills to children in grades K-8. Some of the skills taught include empathy, problem solving, and emotion management.  

Kelso's Choice: A conflict-management program for elementary students. Kelso the Frog helps teach students ways to resolve minor conflicts on their own. The program also teaches students the difference between problems they can solve on their own and major problems that require adult help. 

What should students do if they’re being bullied or see bullying happening?  

All instances of suspected HIB should be reported to the school’s principal or assistant principal. This can be done in person, over the phone, by email or by submitting the official HIB Reporting form to the school’s main office.  

What will the school and KSD do? 

A report of suspected HIB will start an investigation of the incident. The following takes place during an investigation: 

  • Both parties (alleged target and alleged aggressor) will be interviewed. 
  • A representative group of witnesses (identified by both alleged target and alleged aggressor) will be interviewed. 
  • Any evidence available of the incident (video, social media posts, written notes, etc.) will be reviewed. 
  • A review of any past incidents of conflict between the two parties involved will take place. 

What will they determine from the investigation?  

After the investigation the administrator will notify the parent/guardian of both the alleged target and alleged aggressor with the outcome of the investigation. The investigation could conclude: 

  • This was an incident of HIB, the aggressor will face corrective action (discipline) according to Policy and Procedure 3240 and 3240P 
  • This incident was not an incident of HIB (unfounded) however did violate a different school or district rule. The aggressor will face corrective action (discipline) according to Policy and Procedure 3240 and 3240P 
  • The incident was “unfounded.” There was insufficient evidence to determine the incident occurred. Actions may still be needed however no discipline will occur.  

Note: The school is not allowed to discipline students for HIB that occurs outside of school that has no direct connection to events at school, however, the school will still help address the issue so the impact at school will be lessened.  

What happens after the investigation is completed?  

After the conclusion of the investigation an emphasis will be placed on having all parties be able to successfully attend school together. A plan may be needed to identify what specific supports are needed. Mediation will sometimes take place if both students are agreeable. Steps to limit contact during school may be made. Since every incident of HIB is different there is no one plan that works every time.  

What can students or families do if they don’t agree with the outcome of an investigation?

If your student is determined to be the aggressor in a HIB investigation, then regular school discipline appeals processes apply. Please review Policy and Procedure 3241 and 3241P for complete guide. In most cases this starts with an appeal directly to the school’s principal.  

If your student is the alleged target and it is determined this is an unfounded incident and you wish to appeal you would appeal this to the HIB Compliance Officer for the district, please contact Randy Heath at 253-373-7235. You may wish to have a conversation with the school principal first to get a better understanding why it was unfounded and what steps they plan to take.  

What about harassment or discrimination based on a protected status like gender, race, religion, disability or sexual orientation?  

Harassment, intimidation and/or bullying based on a protected class such as gender, race, religion, disability and/or sexual orientation will be thoroughly investigated under our Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedure 3205 and 3205P or our Non-Discrimination Policy and Procedure 3210 and 3210P. If you feel this may be the case when making the report, please indicate to the school administrator that you believe the harassment may fall under one of these two categories.  

The complainant has the option of using an informal process for resolution of the harassment of a formal process. If the complainant starts with the informal process and the issue cannot be resolved, then at any point they can ask that it be moved to a formal process.  

Where can I find KSD policies and procedures on harassment, intimidation and bullying? 

All KSD Board policies and procedures are available on BoardDocs

3205 and 3205P – Sexual Harassment of Students Prohibited 
3207 and 3207P – Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying 
3210 and 3210P – Nondiscrimination 
3211 and 3211P – Transgender Students
3240 and 3240P – Student Conduct Expectations and Reasonable Sanctions
3241 and 3241P – Classroom management, Discipline and Corrective Actions