In July 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy signed Public Act 11-232 into law, marking Connecticut’s first anti-bullying legislation. The Act, known as “An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws,” defines bullying as “the repeated use by one or more students of a written, oral or electronic communication, such as cyberbullying, directed at or referring to another student attending school in the same district.” The law defines cyberbullying as “any act of bullying through the use of the Internet, interactive and digital technologies, cellular mobile telephone or other mobile electronic devices or any electronic communications.”
Legal Requirements of School Bullying Policy
The law requires that each local and regional board of education develop and implement a specific bullying policy addressing the existence of bullying within its schools. Specifically, the law requires the school policy to:
Enable students to anonymously report acts of bullying to school administrators;
Appoint a safe school climate coordinator to facilitate the school’s plan;
Enable the parents or guardians of students to file written reports of suspected bullying;
Require school administrators (including teachers and staff) who witness bullying or receive reports of bullying to notify a school administrator no more than one day after the employee witnesses or receives the report of bullying; and to file a written report no more than two school days after making such oral report;
Provide for the inclusion of language in student codes of conduct concerning bullying;
Require each school to notify the parents or guardians of students who commit bullying and the parents or guardians of students who are the victims of bullying, and invite them to attend at least one meeting.
The law was enacted in response to alarmingly high reports of bullying in Connecticut, with studies showing that 25 percent of Connecticut high school students report having been bullied in the past year. Bullying and cyberbullying, an extension of bullying, have far-reaching and damaging consequences. Students may become withdrawn, flounder in their academics, suffer depression, and in the worst-case scenarios, attempt or commit suicide.
If you, your child, or a loved one is the victim of bullying in school, there are legal avenues. Please do not hesitate to contact Joseph Maya and the other experienced education lawyers at Maya Murphy, P.C. at (203) 221-3100 or by email at JMaya@MayaLaw.com if you have any questions regarding Connecticut’s anti-bullying law, or any education law matter.