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Saturday, November 17, 2018
Thousands of HSTA Members Could be Targeted by New Anti-Bullying Policy
By Selected News Articles @ 5:31 PM :: 6298 Views :: Education K-12, Labor

Newspaper report of DOE policy change on bullying was woefully inadequate

  • Paper omits finding of adult bullying of students
  • Paper omits mention of lawsuit against DOE

by Larry Geller, Disappeared News, Oct 27, 2018 (excerpts)

Readers of the Star-Advertiser report published on October 6 (DOE discipline policy gets stricter on bullies, Star-Advertiser p.A1, 10/6/2018) will learn from the lead that the Department of Education is “catching up with the times”:

The state Department of Education is proposing changes to its misconduct and discipline policy to get tough on students who bully, discriminate and harass.

Catching up with the times, the DOE also is proposing to create an offense for sexual harassment and specifically acknowledges sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in its protections against discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Far from voluntarily correcting its long-standing pattern of neglecting to protect students in its charge, the DOE is responding to a US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights report and also faces a class-action lawsuit filed against it on August 30, 2018. There was no mention of the lawsuit in the newspaper article.

The lawsuit charges, in part (snip):

… the Department failed to adhere to even the basic expectations of parents and students attending public schools by neglecting its responsibility as policymaker, and by the blatant and repeated failure to protect victims of bullying and harassment. …

The continuing practice of the Defendants and their deliberate indifference towards victims of bullying and harassment harms all of Hawai`i’s students by systemically supporting the behavior, and needlessly puts the entire student population at risk of significant and irreparable damage.

A glaring omission in the report is the US Department of Education OCR finding that policies intended to protect students against harassment by third parties or staff are not available to students or their families.

Policy 305.10, Procedures Regarding Employee Harassment of Students, is analyzed in the OCR report and falls short of federal mandates.

… none of the procedures used by HDOE are sufficient to comply with the grievance procedure requirements under Title VI, Title IX, Section 504 and Title II.

HDOE submitted to OCR a Standard of Practice Document No. 0211(SP 0211),released March 8. 2008,which is the document implementing Policy 305.10.17 OCR was not able to locate SP 0211 on HDOE's website, and HDOE has provided no information indicating that it has released SP 0211 to students or their parents.

The OCR report explains this policy:

HDOE identified Policy 305.10 (formerly titled Policy 4211) to OCR in November 2011 as the policy used when an employee harasses a student.

Policy 305.10 prohibits discrimination, including harassment, by any employee against a student based on various protected classes, including race, sex, or disability. It further states that “a student shall not be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to harassment, bullying, or discrimination under any program, services, or activity" of HDOE.

It lastly states that retaliation against anyone engaging in a protected activity is prohibited. Protected activity is defined under the policy as follows: filing a complaint of harassment, bullying, or discrimination; participating in complaint or investigative proceedings dealing with harassment, bullying, or discrimination under the policy; inquiring about one's rights under the policy; or otherwise opposing acts covered under the policy.

The Star-Advertiser story discusses only the proposed rule changes to Chapter 19 affecting student discipline….

Editorial goes easy on DOE

A companion editorial (A stronger plan to fight bullying, Star-Advertiser p. A8, 10/10/2018) falls short of chastising the DOE:

Yes, schoolyard bullies have been around forever. But that’s no reason to tolerate such behavior.

The DOE has tolerated such behavior, and would be tolerating it still if not for federal intervention and the likely outcome of the new class-action lawsuit.

As in its earlier news article, the editorial says nothing about needed action on the part of the DOE to end employee/staff bullying and harassment of students....

read … Full Report

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How Many HSTA and HGEA Members May be Subject to Bullying-Related Complaints if the new Policy is Adopted? 

Excerpt of US DOE office for Civil Rights Survey Data Gathered from Hawaii DOE Students

…Of those students who indicated in response to OCR's survey that they were bullied or harassed, over half (10,744, or 54.07%) indicated that they or someone else reported the harassment to a teacher or other school employee. Of the incidents that school officials were made aware of, nearly two-thirds (6,727, or 62.6%) concerned incidents where students believed that they had been bullied or harassed on the basis of their sex, race, color, national origin, or disability. In 980 of these responses (14.6% of the total), according to the survey results, the school took no action in response. Of the students who further answered the survey question regarding whether they were bullied or harassed again after school officials were made aware of their initial incident, over half (51.75%, or 5,270 students), indicated that they were.

Of the students who indicated on the survey that they were bullied or harassed but who indicated that they did not report the incident to a school official (9,128 students, or 45.93%), nearly half (4,261, or 46.6%) indicated that they did not do so because they did not believe the school would do anything in response to their report (1,104, or 12%), that it would make the bullying and harassment worse (1,989, or 22%),or both (1,168, or 13%). These 4,261 responses correspond to 6% of all the survey responses that OCR gathered from across the state…. 

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