Objectives and Purpose
The Friendship Public Charter School (Friendship PCS) Board of Trustees (Board) is committed to providing a safe, respectful, thriving academic environment in which all members of the Friendship community work together with respect, dignity and equality to realize the Friendship mission to “…provide a world class education that motivates students to achieve high academic standards, enjoy learning and develop as ethical, literate, well-rounded and self-sufficient citizens who contribute actively to their communities.” To this end, the Board prohibits all forms of bullying on school grounds, transportation to and from school, via electronic devices and social networking sites and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events including those that take place at locations outside the district but that materially and substantially disrupt the educational process of the school environment or violate the rights of others.
Friendship PCS, in consultation with youth, families and staff, has established this comprehensive bullying prevention policy. This policy protects the dignity and safety of the Friendship community and describes the prevention strategies to identify and prevent incidents by connecting youth to necessary services. Friendship PCS will promptly report and investigate all incidents of bullying, harassment and intimidation and provide appropriate remedies for victims of an incident. This policy serves as Friendship’s bullying prevention plan.
A measure in means to addressing the many problems associated with bullying, the District of Columbia City Council passed the Youth Bullying Prevention Act of 2012 to address the issue on a comprehensive, citywide level. The policy requires that all District agencies, grantees, and educational institutions that provide services to youth adopt a bullying prevention policy. Friendship Public Charter School defines bullying as any severe, pervasive, or persistent act or conduct whether physical, electronic, or verbal that:
- May be based on a youth’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place or residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics; and
- Can reasonably be predicted to:
- Place the youth in reasonable fear of physical harm to their person or property; b. Cause a substantial detrimental effect on the youth’s physical or mental health;
- Substantially interfere with the youth’s academic performance or attendance; or
- Substantially interfere with the youth’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by an agency, educational institution, or grantee.
Prohibition against Bullying
Acts of bullying, including cyberbullying are prohibited on:
- Friendship grounds and immediately adjacent property, at any sponsored or related events on and off Friendship grounds, on any vehicle used for Friendship business, at any transit stop at which youth wait to be transported to Friendship business, or through the use of any electronic devices owned by the Friendship, leased by or used for Friendship business.
- At a location or function unrelated to the Friendship PCS through the use of any electronic devices, including those not owned or leased by the Friendship PCS, if the acts of bullying or cyberbullying create a hostile environment at the agency for the victim or witnesses, infringe on their rights at the Friendship PCS or materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the Friendship PCS
Retaliation against a youth, volunteer or staff member who reports bullying, provides information about an act of bullying, or witnesses an act of bullying is also prohibited.
Publication and Contact Information
This policy will be made available on the Friendship PCS website at www.friendshipschools.org. The policy, and age appropriate versions thereof, will be distributed to youth and parents of youth in contact with Friendship Public Charter School annually, and will emphasize that the policy applies to participation in functions sponsored by Friendship as well. Additionally, this policy will be included in all publications of agency rules, regulations, and solicitations and agreements for contracts and grants.
The Office of the Chief of Staff is responsible for coordinating Friendship’s bullying prevention efforts. All questions, comments and concerns about the bullying policy and Friendship PCS prevention efforts should be directed to Tamika Maultsby, Deputy Chief of Compliance at email@example.com
Code of Conduct DC Code
Friendship Public Charter School expects all students to behave in a way that supports and provides a safe and welcoming environment for other youth, Friendship staff, and community members. Youth who are part of the community are expected to:
• Treat all members of the Friendship community with respect
• Respect the property of Friendship, its staff, and other youth connected to Friendship Charter School;
• Respond appropriately to instructions from Friendship staff
A list of consequences that can result from an identified incident of bullying can be found in the Friendship Code of Conduct.
Reporting Incidents of Bullying or Retaliation
Friendship Public Charter School expects all staff members and volunteers to report incidents of bullying or retaliation they witness or are made aware of. Staff members should immediately report all such incidents to the Deputy Chief of Compliance, who will create a written report of a bullying incident and include the incident in Friendship Public Charter School reports of bullying incidents to the citywide coordinator.
Youth, parents, guardians, and community members are encouraged by Friendship Public Charter School to report any incidents of bullying that they witness or become aware of. Reports of bullying may be made by mail to Friendship PCS, 1400 1st Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001, by phone to (202) 281-1700 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reports of bullying by youth, parents, guardians and community members may be made anonymously, but disciplinary action cannot be taken by Friendship Public Charter School solely on the basis of an anonymous report, though such a report may trigger an investigation that will provide actionable information. All oral reports received as part of this process will be transcribed into writing and included in Friendship Public Charter School’s bullying database.
Friendship Public Charter School will ensure that there are reporting materials available in a wide variety of languages and that information about reporting is communicated to youth connected to Friendship Public Charter School in an age appropriate manner. Information on how to report incidents of bullying will also be included as appropriate in Friendship Public Charter School mailings to youth and their families. The Office of Student Support Services is available to assist in reporting incidents of bullying and can be reached at (202) 281-1700.
Reports of bullying not received by Friendship PCS will be transmitted to them and the Compliance Specialist within one day of their receipt or creation by the staff member who reported the initial incident.
Investigating Incidents of Bullying
Prior to the investigation of an incident, Friendship PCS campuses will take steps to ensure the safety of the alleged victim referenced in a reported bullying incident. These steps will be designed to restore a sense of safety to the victim and to protect them from further incidents if necessary. Examples of such steps taken include designating a staff member to serve as that alleged victim’s “safe” person, altering the alleged bully/bullies’ seating or schedule to reduce access to the alleged victim or creating a safety plan in consultation with the alleged victim. Once an investigation is concluded, further steps will be taken as needed to assure the continued safety of the victim from additional incidents of bullying or retaliation.
Once a report of bullying has been received by an agency, the following groups will be notified as needed by Office of Student Support Services so long as, in the absence of legal imperative, the parent or guardian’s written consent is obtained prior to notification.
Parents and guardians: Friendship Public Charter School will notify the parents or guardians of victims, bullies, and if appropriate, witnesses to an incident of bullying behavior about the nature of the incident and the procedures and steps in place for responding to it. The Office of Student Support Services will determine if parents or guardians should be informed prior to or after the investigation of an incident.
Schools: Friendship Public Charter School will notify the schools of all victims and bullies in an incident of bullying to ensure that youth are not victimized across agencies and that comprehensive service and protection can be provided to bullies and victims.
Law enforcement agencies: If Friendship Public Charter School determines that the reported incident may involve criminal activity or the basis for criminal charges, information about the incident must be conveyed to the appropriate law enforcement authorities. As part of making this determination The Office of Student Support Services may wish to consult with either a law enforcement officer or legal counsel. Law enforcement shall only be contacted if all other available remedies have been exhausted.
Friendship Public Charter School will notify these groups of incidents of bullying only to the extent allowed by law. Notification will be undertaken solely to ensure that services are provided to victims and bullies and to protect victims from further or sustained victimization. Friendship Public Charter School will make every effort to protect the confidentiality of those who report bullying incidents.
The Office of Student Support Services is responsible for investigating reports of bullying and can be reached at (202) 281-1700. An investigation of an incident will be initiated no more than one day after receipt of a report of bullying and will conclude no later than 30 days after the receipt of such a report. As part of the investigation Friendship staff will interview any involved or relevant parties including alleged victims, bullies, witnesses, staff, parents or guardians.
The Office of Student Support Services will provide confidentiality as far as possible to relevant parties as part of the investigation, and inform all relevant parties that retaliation for reporting acts of bullying is prohibited. Written records of the investigation process should be maintained and may be included in the prevention database to generate a more accurate picture of bullying behaviors at Friendship Public Charter School. Where necessary, provisions will be made to include the advice of legal counsel.
In investigating an incident of bullying, Friendship Public Charter School will seek to ensure that the reported incident is one of victimization, a sign of bullying, rather than of conflict. Thus when investigating a reported incident Friendship Public Charter School will attempt to determine, through interviewing the victim, what mechanisms the victim had and has access to for halting the incident that occurred, and preventing future such instances. If the victim reports a few or no mechanisms for ending the incident or constructively dealing with future instances, that information will serve as compelling, though not conclusive evidence that the reported incident was an incident of bullying.
Friendship Public Charter School is charged with making determinations as to whether a reported incident constitutes a case of bullying. These determinations will be made in consideration of the totality of the facts and the circumstances surrounding the incident. If the Office of Student Support Services determines that an incident of bullying has occurred, they should take the response steps enumerated in the tertiary prevention plan to prevent the recurrence of an incident and restore the safety of a victim.
If Friendship Public Charter School determines that additional support is needed to conduct a thorough and equitable investigation they will contact the citywide prevention coordinator.
Sanctions and Remedies for Bullying
Friendship Public Charter School recognizes that for sanctions to be an effective component of a bullying prevention plan, they must be applied consistently, fairly, and equitably. To this end, Friendship Public Charter School shall ensure that staff follows these guidelines as closely as possible, while allowing for flexibility to adapt sanctions to individual contexts. Furthermore, to ensure equitability in applying sanctions, measures will be applied on a graduated basis determined by the nature of the offense, the disciplinary history of the youth involved, and the age and developmental status of the youth involved. Responses to incidents of bullying may include, but are not limited to:
• Deprivation of privileges
• Bans on participating in optional activities
• Deprivation of services
• Ban or suspension from facilities
Sanctions will be applied within one day of the determination that an incident of bullying has occurred, unless an appeal of the incident by the bully has been received in that time as described in the Appeals section of this policy. To ensure that single incidents of bullying do not become recurring problems, Friendship Public Charter School will always refer victims and bullies involved in an incident to services in addition to imposing sanctions on bullies.
Friendship Public Charter School does not endorse the use of punitive strategies associated with “zero-tolerance” policies when applying sanctions to an incident of bullying.
Friendship Public Charter School shall communicate to youth, the consequences that youth can expect for participating in bullying behavior.
Appeals (DC Code § 2-1535.03(b)(8); § 2-1535.04)
Parties dissatisfied by the outcome of a bullying investigation may appeal the determination of the Office of Student Support Services to the Office of the Chief of Staff. This appeal should be submitted no later than 30 days after the initial determination. Upon receipt of an appeal, the Office of the Chief of Staff must conduct a secondary investigation within 30 days of the receipt of an appeal. This 30 days may be extended up to an additional 15 days if the Office of the Chief of Staff sets forth in writing the reasons why more time is needed to conduct an investigation. Additionally, upon the receipt of an appeal, the Office of the Chief of Staff must inform the party making the submission of their ability to seek additional redress under the DC Human Rights Act.