The bullying, harassment, or intimidation of students is hereby strictly prohibited within the school property or grounds and in its surrounding areas, during school sponsored activities, and/or in school buses.
(a) Bullying.- For a situation or disciplinary incident to be classified as bullying, the following elements must be present: (1) a continuous, repetitive, and intentional pattern of verbal, written, or physical acts by one or more students; (2) intended to cause harm or discomfort; and (3) where there is an imbalance of power whether real or perceived by the victim. Incidents of interpersonal violence or peer conflicts at the school where the aforementioned elements are not present shall not be classified as bullying.
(b) Cyberbullying.- Bullying may also be carried out through electronic communications or messaging including, but not limited to, text messages, emails, photographs, images, and social media posts using electronic devices such as telephones, mobile phones, computers, and tablets, among others.
(c) Duty to notify.- Any person who is aware of a bullying situation between students shall notify the school staff in order for the latter to make the pertinent evaluation and determination as to whether such case shall be classified as bullying. If, based on the evaluation, it is determined that there was no bullying, a written document shall be submitted to such effect including the grounds for such decision and the supporting evidence. The school staff shall report to the pertinent law enforcement authorities any bullying cases where the safety and wellbeing of the student or school community is threatened. Moreover, precautionary measures shall be taken as appropriate. These actions must be taken in conjunction with the regional staff, provided that the circumstances so allows, while following the protocols established by law or regulations.
(d) Resolving incidents.- In general, cases of bullying shall be addressed by school staff in order to repair the damage caused, thus restoring any strained relationships between school community members, and rehabilitating the parties involved while following the applicable protocols and regulations. If necessary, the process to refer the situation to the relevant authorities shall begin.
(e) Cases involving special education students.- Educational institutions shall be governed by the disciplinary procedures contained in the "Special Education Procedures Manual" whenever a student registered in the Department's Special Education Program is involved in a bullying case.
(f) Duty to inform.- The Secretary shall inform the students of the Public Education System about the provisions of this chapter and/or the regulations or rules related to the ban on bullying, through the authorized staff. The Secretary is hereby authorized to make these documents available to any private school in Puerto Rico in order to comply with the public policy set forth in our code of laws to eliminate harassment and intimidation from our educational institutions.
(g) Any student, staff member, or volunteer of a public school who submits a report, in good faith, containing an account of a bully harassing or intimidating another student shall be protected from any harm or retaliation resulting from reporting such incident.
(h) The Regional Superintendent, in conjunction with the School Principals and School Councils, shall provide public school employees and students with an opportunity to participate in training programs, activities, and workshops designed and developed to acquire the knowledge and tools related to the public policy set forth in this section on harassment and intimidation between students or school staff. Likewise, social workers and professional counselors shall have the responsibility to advise students on harassment and intimidation and shall offer counseling to both the bullying victims and the bullies.
(i) The Secretary shall submit an annual report to the Legislative Assembly, per school, on the bullying cases reported.