THE STORY In an effort to prevent cyberbullying, Delaware school districts are adopting a state-mandated cyberbullying policy. The state released a press release in March explaining a measure on cyberbullying done in collaboration between the Department of Education and the Department of Justice.
Due to the growing concern of cyberbullying incidents, Attorney General Beau Biden and Lt. Gov. Matt Denn met last year with superintendents and held several public hearings for the purpose of gathering evidence. This was followed by the passing of Senate Bill 193 in 2012, which directed DOE and DOJ to develop a uniform policy, according the press release.
The policy allows for the Attorney General's office to defend schools that face a legal challenge after implementing the policy.
"This new statewide cyberbullying policy is a common-sense tool to help schools and law enforcement better protect kids by recognizing the prevalence of online communication, the damaging effect it has on students who are victimized, and the significant disruption is causes to our schools," Biden said in the release.
The policy was put into effect in March with a 90-day deadline for districts to adopt it.
PREVIOUSLY REPORTED The Smyrna School Board approved the first reading of the cyberbullying policy at their May 15 meeting. Assistant Superintendent Patrik Williams said John Sadowski from the Department of Education provided district's with the new regulation verbatim and encouraged them to adopt it with the specific language.
Under the policy, the district would prohibit cyberbullying by students directed at other students. Cyberbullying would be treated by the district in the same way as bullying incidents.
The policy defines cyberbullying as an electronic communication directed at an identifiable student or group of students that interferes with a student's physical well-being; is threatening or intimidating; or is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it is reasonably likely to limit a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the education programs of the school.
Williams said under the new policy an act of cyberbullying can be penalized regardless of where the incident takes place; cyberbullying no longer needs to occur in a school building or on school equipment. Williams said before the school district would move forward with an allegation of cyberbullying if the incident happened at school.
WHAT'S NEW The Smyrna School Board approved the second reading of the cyberbullying policy at their June 19 meeting; the policy is now in effect in the Smyrna School District.
Board member Jeff Clark asked Williams if there have been any districts to not adopt the policy verbatim.
Williams said not a single district in the state has gone against the recommendation from the Department of Education.
"Every district has adopted it verbatim," Williams. "The climate officer, John Sadowski, essentially presented it and he said, 'You have 90 days. Our recommendation is you adopt it word-for-word.'"
Clark went on to make a motion the board approve the policy; the board unanimously passed the motion.
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