Officials at San Luis Coastal Unified School District can now suspend or expel students who bully their peers, whether the harassment takes place on campus, around town, or online. The school board adopted the new policy after its first reading at their Sept. 4 meeting.
The policy gives the school authority to punish any bullying activities—physical abuse, verbal taunts, online gossip—that cause or are likely to cause “substantial disruption” of school activities, which could mean anything from fights and outbursts to absenteeism and poor academic performance. The policy also demands that school staff take an active approach to prevent bullying, but it falls short of naming specific measures that could be used to reprimand those who fail to intervene.
Assistant Superintendent Rick Robinett told New Times that the district hasn’t had major problems with bullying. The impetus for the new policy was a state mandate passed in July that requires all districts to have similar policies, he said.
“Cyber bullying is all new terrain for us,” Robinett said. “Trying to pinpoint where the district does and doesn’t have jurisdiction is tricky stuff.”
According to Robinett, no one spoke to oppose the policy or express concerns that it might impede free speech. It went into effect immediately.