Oklahoma School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Bullying, Harassment, or Hazing

Discipline Compendium

Oklahoma School Discipline Laws & Regulations: Bullying, Harassment, or Hazing

Category: Discipline Addressing Specific Code of Conduct Violations
Subcategory: Bullying, Harassment, or Hazing
State: Oklahoma

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LAWS

§24-100.2. Short title.

Sections 24-100.2 through 24-100.5 of this title shall be known and may be cited as the "School Safety and Bullying Prevention Act".

§24-100.3. Purpose and definitions.

A. As used in the School Safety and Bullying Prevention Act:

1. "Bullying" means any pattern of harassment, intimidation, threatening behavior, physical acts, verbal or electronic communication directed toward a student or group of students that results in or is reasonably perceived as being done with the intent to cause negative educational or physical results for the targeted individual or group and is communicated in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school's educational mission or the education of any student;

2. "At school" means on school grounds, in school vehicles, at school-sponsored activities, or at school-sanctioned events;

3. "Electronic communication" means the communication of any written, verbal, pictorial information or video content by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a mobile or cellular telephone or other wireless telecommunication device, or a computer; and

4. "Threatening behavior" means any pattern of behavior or isolated action, whether or not it is directed at another person, that a reasonable person would believe indicates potential for future harm to students, school personnel, or school property.

B. Nothing in this act shall be construed to impose a specific liability on any school district.

§24-100.4. Control and discipline of child.

A. Each district board of education shall adopt a policy for the discipline of all children attending public school in that district, and for the investigation of reported incidents of bullying. The policy shall provide options for the discipline of the students and shall define standards of conduct to which students are expected to conform. The policy shall:

1. Specifically address bullying by students at school and by electronic communication, if the communication is specifically directed at students or school personnel and concerns bullying at school;

2. Contain a procedure for reporting an act of bullying to a school official or law enforcement agency, including a provision that permits a person to report an act anonymously. No formal disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report;

3. Contain a requirement that any school employee that has reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that a person is a target of bullying shall immediately report it to the principal or a designee of the principal;

4. Contain a statement of how the policy is to be publicized including a requirement that:

a. an annual written notice of the policy be provided to parents, guardians, staff, volunteers and students, with age-appropriate language for students,

b. notice of the policy be posted at various locations within each school site, including but not limited to cafeterias, school bulletin boards, and administration offices,

c. the policy be posted on the Internet website for the school district and each school site that has an Internet website, and

d. the policy be included in all student and employee handbooks;

5. Require that appropriate school district personnel involved in investigating reports of bullying make a determination regarding whether the conduct is actually occurring;

6. Contain a procedure for providing timely notification to the parents or guardians of a victim of documented and verified bullying and to the parents or guardians of the perpetrator of the documented and verified bullying;

7. Identify by job title the school official responsible for enforcing the policy;

8. Contain procedures for reporting to law enforcement all documented and verified acts of bullying which may constitute criminal activity or reasonably have the potential to endanger school safety;

9. Require annual training for administrators and school employees as developed and provided by the State Department of Education in preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting incidents of bullying;

10. Provide for an educational program as designed and developed by the State Department of Education and in consultation with the Office of Juvenile Affairs for students and parents in preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting incidents of bullying;

11. Establish a procedure for referral of a person who commits an act of bullying to a delinquency prevention and diversion program administered by the Office of Juvenile Affairs;

12. Address prevention by providing:

a. consequences and remedial action for a person who commits an act of bullying,

b. consequences and remedial action for a student found to have falsely accused another as a means of retaliation, reprisal or as a means of bullying, and

c. a strategy for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services, including guidance, academic intervention, and other protection for students, both targets and perpetrators, and family members affected by bullying, as necessary;

13. Establish a procedure for:

a. the investigation, determination and documentation of all incidents of bullying reported to school officials,

b. identifying the principal or a designee of the principal as the person responsible for investigating incidents of bullying,

c. reporting the number of incidents of bullying, and

d. determining the severity of the incidents and their potential to result in future violence;

14. Establish a procedure whereby, upon completing an investigation of bullying, a school may recommend that available community mental health care, substance abuse or other counseling options be provided to the student, if appropriate; and

15. Establish a procedure whereby a school may request the disclosure of any information concerning students who have received mental health, substance abuse, or other care pursuant to paragraph 14 of this subsection that indicates an explicit threat to the safety of students or school personnel, provided the disclosure of the information does not violate the requirements and provisions of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Section 2503 of Title 12 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section 1376 of Title 59 of the Oklahoma Statutes, or any other state or federal laws regarding the disclosure of confidential information.

B. In developing the policy, the district board of education shall make an effort to involve the teachers, parents, administrators, school staff, school volunteers, community representatives, local law enforcement agencies and students. The students, teachers, and parents or guardian of every child residing within a school district shall be notified by the district board of education of its adoption of the policy and shall receive a copy upon request. The school district policy shall be implemented in a manner that is ongoing throughout the school year and is integrated with other violence prevention efforts.

C. The teacher of a child attending a public school shall have the same right as a parent or guardian to control and discipline such child according to district policies during the time the child is in attendance or in transit to or from the school or any other school function authorized by the school district or classroom presided over by the teacher.

D. Except concerning students on individualized education plans (IEP) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), P.L. No. 101-476, the State Board of Education shall not have authority to prescribe student disciplinary policies for school districts or to proscribe corporal punishment in the public schools. The State Board of Education shall not have authority to require school districts to file student disciplinary action reports more often than once each year and shall not use disciplinary action reports in determining a school district's or school site's eligibility for program assistance including competitive grants.

E. The board of education of each school district in this state shall have the option of adopting a dress code for students enrolled in the school district. The board of education of a school district shall also have the option of adopting a dress code which includes school uniforms.

F. The board of education of each school district in this state shall have the option of adopting a procedure that requires students to perform campus-site service for violating the district's policy.

G. The State Board of Education shall:

1. Promulgate rules for periodically monitoring school districts for compliance with this section and providing sanctions for noncompliance with this section;

2. Establish and maintain a central repository for the collection of information regarding documented and verified incidents of bullying; and

3. Publish a report annually on the State Department of Education website regarding the number of documented and verified incidents of bullying in the public schools in the state.

§24-100.5. Legislative intent–Safe school committee–Applicability.

A. Every year each public school site shall establish a Safe School Committee to be composed of at least seven (7) members. The Safe School Committee shall be composed of teachers, parents of enrolled students, students, and a school official who participates in the investigation of reports of bullying as required by subsection A of Section 24-100.4 of this title. The Committee may include administrators, school staff, school volunteers, community representatives, and local law enforcement agencies. The Committee shall assist the school board in promoting a positive school climate through planning, implementing and evaluating effective prevention, readiness and response strategies, including the policy required by Section 24-100.4 of this title.

B. The Safe School Committee shall study and make recommendations to the principal regarding:

1. Unsafe conditions, possible strategies for students, faculty and staff to avoid physical and emotional harm at school, student victimization, crime prevention, school violence, and other issues which prohibit the maintenance of a safe school;

2. Student bullying as defined in Section 24-100.3 of this title;

3. Professional development needs of faculty and staff to recognize and implement methods to decrease student bullying;

4. Methods to encourage the involvement of the community and students, the development of individual relationships between students and school staff, and use of problem-solving teams and resources that include counselors and other behavioral health and suicide prevention resources within or outside the school system; and

5. Professional development needs of faculty and staff to recognize and report suspected human trafficking.

In its considerations, the Safe School Committee shall review the district policy for the prevention of bullying and the list of research-based programs appropriate for the prevention of bullying of students at school compiled by the State Department of Education. In addition, the Committee may review traditional and accepted bullying prevention programs utilized by other states, state agencies, or school districts.

C. The Safe School Committee may study and make recommendations to the school district board of education regarding the development of a rape or sexual assault response program that may be implemented at the school site.

D. The State Department of Education shall:

1. Develop a model policy and deliver training materials to all school districts on the components that should be included in a school district policy for the prevention of bullying; and

2. Compile and distribute to each public school site, prominently display on the State Department of Education website and annually publicize in print media a list of research-based programs appropriate for the prevention of bullying of students. If a school district implements a commercial bullying prevention program, it shall use a program listed by the State Department of Education.

E. The provisions of this section shall not apply to technology center schools.

§24-100.6. Separation of victim and offender.

A. Students who have been victims of certain felony offenses by other students, as well as the siblings of the student victims, have the right to be kept separated from the student offender both at school and during school transportation.

B. Notwithstanding any provision of law prohibiting the disclosure of the identity of a minor, within thirty (30) days of the time of the adjudication or withholding of adjudication of any juvenile offender for any offense subject to the Juvenile Sex Offender Registration Act, either the juvenile bureau in counties which have juvenile bureaus or the Office of Juvenile Affairs in all other counties shall notify the superintendent of the school district in which the juvenile offender is enrolled or intends to enroll of the adjudication and the offense for which the child was adjudicated. Upon receipt of such notice, the school district shall notify the victim and parent or guardian of the victim of their right to request to be separated from the offender at school and during school transportation. If the victim requests to be separated from the offender, the school district shall take appropriate action to effectuate the provisions of subsection C of this section. The decision of the victim shall be final and not reversible.

C. Any offender described in subsection B of this section shall, upon the request of the victim, not attend any school attended by the victim or a sibling of the victim or ride on a school bus on which the victim or a sibling of the victim is riding. The offender shall be permitted by the school district to attend another school within the district in which the offender resides, provided the other school is not attended by the victim or sibling of the victim. If the offender is unable to attend another school in the district in which the offender resides, the offender shall transfer to another school district pursuant to the provisions of the Education Open Transfer Act.

D. The offender or the parents of the offender, if the offender is a juvenile, shall be responsible for arranging and paying for transportation and any other cost associated with or required for the offender to attend another school or that is required as a consequence of the prohibition against attending a school or riding on a school bus on which the victim or a sibling of the victim is attending or riding. However, the offender or the parents of the offender shall not be charged for existing modes of transportation that can be used by the offender at no additional cost to the school district.

§24-100.7. Suicide awareness and prevention.

B. The board of education of each school district in this state may provide schoolwide training to all students in grades seven through twelve and staff addressing suicide awareness and prevention. The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services shall develop and make available to school districts curriculum which addresses suicide awareness and prevention, without cost to the school districts. The course outline for the curriculum shall be made available to the public online through the school district website. Beginning with the 2014-2015 school year, every school district may:

3. Provide a suicide prevention training program that is selected by the school district from a list maintained by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to students and school district staff that addresses suicide awareness and prevention. The training program may be combined with any other training provided by the school district addressing bullying prevention.

§1190. Prohibition against hazing–Presumption–Penalty–Definition.

A. No student organization or any person associated with any organization sanctioned or authorized by the governing board of any public or private school or institution of higher education in this state shall engage or participate in hazing.

B. Any hazing activity described in subsection F of this section upon which the initiation or admission into or affiliation with an organization sanctioned or authorized by a public or private school or by any institution of higher education in this state is directly or indirectly conditioned shall be presumed to be a forced activity, even if the student willingly participates in such activity.

C. A copy of the policy or the rules and regulations of the public or private school or institution of higher education which prohibits hazing shall be given to each student enrolled in the school or institution and shall be deemed to be part of the bylaws of all organizations operating at the public school or the institution of higher education.

D. Any organization sanctioned or authorized by the governing board of a public or private school or of an institution of higher education in this state which violates subsection A of this section, upon conviction, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be punishable by a fine of not more than One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00) and the forfeit for a period of not less than one (1) year all of the rights and privileges of being an organization organized or operating at the public or private school or at the institution of higher education.

E. Any individual convicted of violating the provisions of subsection A of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be punishable by imprisonment for not to exceed ninety (90) days in the county jail, or by the imposition of a fine not to exceed Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), or by both such imprisonment and fine.

F. For purposes of this section:

1. "Hazing" means an activity which recklessly or intentionally endangers the mental health or physical health or safety of a student for the purpose of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any organization operating subject to the sanction of the public or private school or of any institution of higher education in this state;

2. "Endanger the physical health" shall include but not be limited to any brutality of a physical nature, such as whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the elements, forced consumption of any food, alcoholic beverage as defined in Section 506 of Title 37 of the Oklahoma Statutes, low-point beer as defined in Section 163.2 of Title 37 of the Oklahoma Statutes, drug, controlled dangerous substance, or other substance, or any other forced physical activity which could adversely affect the physical health or safety of the individual; and

3. "Endanger the mental health" shall include any activity, except those activities authorized by law, which would subject the individual to extreme mental stress, such as prolonged sleep deprivation, forced prolonged exclusion from social contact, forced conduct which could result in extreme embarrassment, or any other forced activity which could adversely affect the mental health or dignity of the individual.

REGULATIONS

210:10-1-20. Implementation of policies prohibiting bullying.

(a) Purpose. Bullying has a negative effect on the social environment of schools, creates a climate of fear among students, inhibits the ability to learn, and leads to other antisocial behavior. Other detrimental effects of bullying include impact on school safety, student engagement, and the overall school environment. Successful school programs recognize, prevent, effectively identify, and intervene in incidents involving harassment, intimidation and bullying behavior. Schools that implement these programs have improved safety and create a more inclusive learning environment. The purpose of the Oklahoma School Bullying Prevention Act, 70 O.S. § 24-100.2, et seq., is to provide a comprehensive approach for public schools to create an environment free of unnecessary disruption which is conducive to the learning process by implementing policies for the prevention of bullying.

(b) Definitions. The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meaning:

(1) "Bullying" means any pattern of harassment, intimidation, threatening behavior, physical acts, verbal or electronic communication directed toward a student or group of students that:

(A) Results in or is reasonably perceived as being done with the intent to cause negative educational or physical results for the targeted individual or group; and

(B) Is communicated in such a way as to disrupt or interfere with the school's educational mission or the education of any student.

(2) "At school" means on school grounds, in school vehicles, at school-sponsored activities, or at school-sanctioned events.

(3) "Electronic Communication" means the communication of any written, verbal, pictorial information or video content by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, a mobile or cellular telephone or other wireless telecommunication device, or a computer.

(4) "Threatening Behavior" means any pattern of behavior or isolated action, whether or not it is directed at another person, that a reasonable person would believe indicates potential for future harm to students, school personnel, or school property.

(c) Implementation. Each district board of education shall adopt a policy for the discipline of all children attending public school in that district. Such policy shall set forth investigative procedures of reported incidents bullying. Such policy shall provide options for discipline of the students and shall define standards of conduct to which students are expected to conform, which may include a detailed description of a graduated range of consequences and sanctions for bullying. The policy adopted by each district board of education shall meet all of the following requirements:

(1) The policy shall specifically prohibit all bullying at school. The prohibition against bullying at school shall include all use of electronic communication that is specifically directed at students or school personnel and is used to perpetuate incidents at school which meet the definition of bullying set forth (b) of this Section;

(2) The policy shall require the district to establish a procedure at each school for reporting an act of bullying to a school official that includes:

(A) A process that ensures reports of bullying are kept confidential and private to the extent necessary to ensure the ability of individuals to report incidents without fear of retribution or retaliation. Such process shall include a procedure which enables any person to report an act of bullying anonymously, provided that an anonymous report shall not be used as the sole basis for formal disciplinary action;

(B) A process that contains a requirement that any school employee that has reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that a person is a target of bullying shall immediately report it to the principal or a designee of the principal and provides guidelines to school administrators, teachers, and other personnel on specific actions to take if incidents of bullying occur; and

(C) A process that ensures tracking of multiple incidents in a way that enables school administrators to identify emerging patterns of bullying over extended periods of time and interventions used with specific bullies and victims of bullying; and

(D) A process that ensures that students are encouraged to report incidents of known bullying and that the system of reporting bullying incidents does not contain unnecessary obstacles to reporting that would serve as a deterrent to reporting;

(3) The policy shall contain procedures for publicizing the bullying policy that meet all of the following requirements:

(A) An annual written notice of the bullying policy, written in age-appropriate language, shall be provided to parents, guardians, staff, volunteers, and students at each school;

(B) A written notice of the school bullying policy shall be posted at various locations within each school site, including, but not limited to cafeterias, school bulletin boards, classrooms, and administration offices. The notice shall be written in age-appropriate language that is understandable and accessible by all students in the school in which the notice is distributed;

(C) The bullying policy shall be posted on the internet websites of the school district and each school site in the district which has its own website; and

(D) The bullying policy shall be included in all student and employee handbooks;

(4) The policy shall require that appropriate school district personnel involved in investigation of reports of bullying shall make a determination regarding whether or not the conduct alleged is actually occurring;

(5) The policy shall require the district to establish a procedure at each school for providing timely notification of documented and verified incident(s) of bullying to the parents or guardians of a victim of documented to the parents or guardians of the perpetrator;

(6) The policy shall require each school to identify by job title the official who is responsible for enforcement of the district's bullying policy;

(7) The policy shall require the district to establish a procedure at each school for reporting all documented and verified acts of bullying to law enforcement that either:

(A) May constitute criminal conduct; or

(B) Have a reasonable potential to endanger the safety of school students, school personnel, or school visitors;

(8) The policy shall require administrators and school employees to participate in annual training in bullying identification, prevention, reporting, and response that is developed and/or provided by the State Department of Education;

(9) The policy shall require the district to provide students and parents at each school with an educational program in bullying identification, prevention, reporting, and response that is designed and developed by the State Department of Education;

(10) The policy shall address prevention of bullying by providing procedures at each school that contain:

(A) Consequences and remedial action for any person (including a student or school employee) who commits an act of bullying. All consequences and remedial action shall be appropriate to the age of the perpetrator(s) and severity of the incident. Such consequences may include, but are not limited to one or more of the following:

(i) Verbal or written warnings;

(ii) Conferences with the parent(s) and/or guardian(s) of the student(s) involved in an incident of bullying;

(iii) Detention;

(iv) Loss of school privileges;

(v) Course and/or teacher reassignment;

(vi) Prohibition or suspension of participation in school activities;

(vii) In-school or out-of-school suspension in accordance with the provisions of 70 O.S. 24-101.3 and district policy and procedures;

(viii) Meetings or conferences with a school counselor, school psychologist, or school social worker;

(ix) Restitution of a victim's property that has been damaged as a result of a documented and verified bullying incident;

(x) Reassignment, suspension, and/or termination of school employment;

(xi) Referral to law enforcement;

(B) Consequences and remedial action for a student found to have falsely accused another student of bullying as a means of retaliation, reprisal, or means of bullying that is appropriate to the age of the perpetrator and severity of the incident, provided that such consequences shall not be implemented or enforced in such a way as to deter credible reports of bullying incidents; and

(C) A strategy for providing appropriate services as necessary for students who are targets of bullying; family members affected by bullying; and perpetrators of bullying. Such services and support may be provided by the school directly or through referrals to other providers and may include, but are not limited to one or more of the following:

(i) Counseling;

(ii) Academic intervention;

(iii) Protection for students who are targets of bullying; and

(iv) Any other appropriate services as necessary to:

(I) Ensure the safety of all students involved in incidents of bullying; and

(II) Prevent further incidents of bullying.

(11) The policy shall require the district to establish a procedure at each school for:

(A) The investigation, documentation, and determination of all incidents of bullying reported to school officials;

(B) Identification and designation of a school official at each school site who is responsible for investigation of incidents of bullying;

(C) Reporting the number of incidents of bullying to the State Department of Education; and

(D) Determination of the severity of the incident(s) and the potential of the incident(s) to result in future violence.

(12) The policy shall require the district to establish a procedure at each school which provides, upon the completion of an investigation, that a school may recommend that available community mental health care, substance abuse, or other counseling options be provide to the student, if appropriate. This may include information about the types of support services available to the student bully, victim, and any other students affected by the prohibited behavior.

(13) The policy shall require the district toestablish a procedure at each school whereby a school may request the disclosure of any information concerning students who have received mental health, substance abuse, or other health care pursuant to (12) of this subsection, if that information indicates an explicit threat to the safety of students or school personnel provided, and if the disclosure of that information does not violate the provisions or requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, Section 2503 of Title 12 of the Oklahoma Statutes, Section 1376 of Title 59 of Oklahoma Statutes, or any other state or federal laws relating to the disclosure of confidential information.

(d) Policy Adoption. The policy adopted by the local school board pursuant to 70 O.S. § 24-100.4 shall include the statutorily required sections outlined in section (c) of this rule. Failure to include such items shall result in action pursuant to (f) of this Section.

(e) Policy Development. In developing a district policy, each district board of education shall make an effort to involve teachers, parents, and students. The students, teachers, and parents or guardian of every child residing within a school district shall be notified by the district board of education of the adoption of the policy and shall receive a copy upon request.

(f) Monitoring and Compliance. The State Board of Education shall monitor school districts for compliance with 70 O.S. § 24-100.4 and (c) of this Section.

(1) To assist the State Department of Education with compliance efforts pursuant to this section, each school district shall identify a Bullying Coordinator who will serve as the district contact responsible for providing information to the State Board of Education. The Bullying Coordinator shall maintain on file with the Department of Education updated contact information. Each school district shall notify the State Department of Education within fifteen (15) business days of the appointment of a new Bullying Coordinator.

(2) Every school district shall submit to the State Board of Education a copy of the district's bullying policy. The bullying policy shall be submitted to the State Department of Education by December 10th of each school year, and shall be submitted as a part of the school's Annual Performance Report.

(3) The State Department of Education shall conduct an annual comprehensive review of each school district's bullying policy to ensure compliance with 70 O.S. § 24-100.4. School districts that do not comply with the statutory requirements of the statute shall be notified in writing, and be required to make necessary changes to comply with state law.

(4) State Department of Education staff shall monitor school districts for compliance with 70 O.S. § 24-100.4 and section (c) of this rule. The State Department of Education may initiate a compliance review upon receipt of evidence which indicates noncompliance with 70 O.S. § 24-100.4. Evidence of potential noncompliance shall be based on the nature or frequency of confirmed complaints of non-compliance received by the State Department of Education. The scope of a compliance review initiated pursuant to (f) of this Section shall be limited to determining whether a school district has implemented policies required by 70 O.S. § 24-100.4.

(5) Records indicating substantial noncompliance with (c) of this Section shall be submitted to the school district's Regional Accreditation Officer (RAO) for review and consideration during the district's accreditation process. Record of a school district's failure to comply with 70 O.S. § 24-100.4, including the number of confirmed complaints of non-compliance involving the district, shall be documented in the district's compliance report and be considered for purposes of accreditation.

(g) Federal Applicability. Harassment, intimidation, and bullying behavior may also result in discriminatory harassment, prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504); and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II). Section 504 and Title II prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability. Each school district shall take necessary steps to ensure compliance with federal law.

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