The Carroll County school board is seeking input from the community on intended changes to the public school system’s policy on bullying.
Carroll County Public Schools Director of Student Services Karl Streaker presented the proposed policy updates at the Jan. 12 school board meeting. Streaker and staff worked to update the school system’s current policies to align with Maryland’s Model Policy to Address Bullying, Harassment or Intimidation, updated in 2016 by the Maryland State Department of Education.
“Our regulation and policy had some conflicting definitions within them. … In the proposed regulation, all of the definitions are identical [to the model],” Streaker told the school board Jan. 12.
A revised process also aims to more accurately report occurrences of bullying, Streaker said.
Carroll County’s current anti-bullying policy, implemented in February 1999 and last updated in February 2017, states that bullying, harassment, intimidation, discrimination or hazing of any person is prohibited by the school board. The updated language states that those things are prohibited “on school property or at school-sponsored functions” and are also prohibited when using “electronic technology at a public school.”
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Proposed revisions also address how bullying incidents are reported and change the language used to describe students’ roles in bullying situations.
Instead of referring to someone as a bullying “victim,” Streaker said, the word will be replaced with the phrase “target of bullying.”
“There is some research that supports if you identify someone as a victim there is a sense that it minimizes the person instead of them being a ‘target’ — a ‘target’ is more accurate,” Streaker said.
The revised policy also states that bullying incidents will be documented in a reporting system and that administrators must appropriately investigate incidents using written forms.
According to Maryland Model Policy, forms may be submitted to school administration by a student, parent, close adult relative or staff member.
The school board will use comments or suggestions from the public submitted on the school system’s website by Feb. 4 to further develop the policy. A final policy will be returned to the board for action at the Feb. 9 meeting.
The revisions will be implemented in the 2022-23 school year, according to a news release.