Havre schools toughen cyberbullying rules


Kids can be vicious, especially-so while separated from consequences by computers and the Internet, but the Havre Public Schools Board gave a preliminary nod of approval to a policy change to protect against such situations.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the first reading of a change to their bullying and hazing rules at Tuesday's meeting that would the actions and consequences of cyber-bullies closer together.

Karla Wohlwend, director of personnel and special services for the district, presented the changes, based on suggestions from the Montana School Board Association.

Wohlwend said the change is important "in order to be more proactive, to be ready, to bring our policy in line with the times. "

The first addition states: "This includes bullying, harassment, or intimidation via electronic communication devices ('cyberbullying'). "

The second expands where the district is watching for these activities to include "anywhere conduct may be reasonably considered to be a threat or an attempted intimidation of a student or staff member or interference with school purposes or an educational function. "

The changes also included portions of the rule related to reporting incidents of intimidation.

Wording that used to encourage people to report to "a teacher, counselor, bus driver, coach, building administrator or district administrator, " now reads "the building principal or District Administrator, who have overall responsibility for such investigations. A student may also report concerns to a teacher, counselor, coach, or bus driver who will be responsible for notifying the appropriate District official. "

Wohlwend said this section expresses a message familiar from her position handling sexual harassment policy, to let people know that reporting problems is effective and important.

"You always want individuals to know... things do get reported, to know you can report it to anyone, " Wohlwend said. "It's just to clarify and open the reporting mechanism or understanding. "

Wohlwend said that there has "not been any precipitating event. It's more of a proactive change. So if anything does happen we have the policy. "


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