If your School District has not already done so, immediate action is necessary to comply with Act 61 of 2008.  This Act amended Chapter 13 of the School Code to add a requirement that all public school districts adopt a policy or amend existing policy concerning bullying.  The legislation makes clear that if your District already has a policy in place which adequately addresses bullying, there is no requirement to adopt a new one.  However, if a new policy must be adopted or an existing one amended, the deadline to do so was January 1, 2009.

Even if you have an existing anti-bullying policy, it must be reviewed to assure that it satisfies the requirements of the new Law.  If it does not meet the Law’s requirements, it must immediately be amended.  Any existing policy must meet the following criteria of the new Act:

 (1) The Policy must describe the consequences for bullying and address the District’s approach to prevention, intervention and education regarding bullying

(2) The Policy must identify the appropriate staff member to whom reports of bullying should be made;

(3) The Policy should include the Act’s definition of bullying which includes cyber-bullying or harassing activities conducted through the use of electronic devices and, if desired, define “school setting” to prohibit bullying both on- and off-school premises, provided that the off-school premises actions impact a student’s ability to receive an education or otherwise disrupts the school environment.

(4) The Policy must be specifically incorporated into the District’s Code of Student Conduct;

(5) The Policy must be available on any District maintained website and within each classroom;

(6) The Policy must also be posted in a prominent location in each District school building in a place where notices are typically posted;

(7) School Districts are required to discuss the provisions of their Anti-Bullying Policy within 90 days after adoption of the Policy, and thereafter at least once each school year; and

(8) School Districts must review their Bullying Policy every three (3) years and provide a copy of the Policy to the Secretary of Education. 

Again, please note that the deadline to adopt a new Policy was January 1, 2009.  Therefore, if your existing Anti-Bullying Policy does not meet the above criteria, you must act immediately to comply with Act 61 of 2008.

Alfred C. Maiello
Alfred Maiello

Alfred C. Maiello is the founding member of MBM and has represented area school districts as solicitor for 50 years. He counsels school districts and educational institutions on leading developments in school law and guiding them through their day-to-day and long-term challenges.