Anti-bullying: the new approach

Last May, the Fargo Public Schools finished an extensive rewrite to update its Anti-Bullying Policy, AP-6061. This was in response to a new state law that required all North Dakota school districts, public and private, to turn in their official policies to the Department of Public Instruction by July 1.

The District first approved and published an anti-bullying policy in 2002. The 2012 revision took 13 months, and utilized state guidelines, national recommendations, and input from a local team. Team members included students, parents from the Fargo PTA Council and building PTA organizations, FPS administrators and employees, community members, law enforcement, and representatives from the Rape & Abuse Crisis Center.

The final version of the revised policy, which was approved by the Board on May 8 (and also endorsed by the North Dakota School Boards Association), defines bullying within the Fargo Public Schools:

“‘Bullying’ means any physical, written or verbal behavior (including the use of electronic technologies) occurring or received on school property or pattern of such behavior that causes distress to one or more students or substantially disrupts the educational environment. This also may interfere with another student or students’ educational benefits, opportunities, or performance. The behavior may be so severe and pervasive that it places the student in actual or reasonable fear of harm and/or in actual or reasonable fear of damage to property.”

It also defines:

  • How the District will take action
  • The official reporting procedure
  • Victim protection
  • Reporting to law enforcement
  • Bullying incident document retention

Implementation of Fargo’s revised policy has been included in the annual operational plans of all FPS buildings, created by each principal. This means tailored approaches for each school, but includes a variety of strategies and tactics to educate each school community – its students, staff, and parents – about bullying, while creating a positive school culture of:

  • A climate of mutual respect
  • A sense of community
  • Students’ sense of ownership
  • Discipline that upholds school values
  • Time devoted to ethical concerns
  • Leadership at all levels

Anti-bullying tactics that administrators and staff will use this year in their buildings include:

  • Classroom visits by principals and counselors
  • Character-focused assemblies
  • Student retreats
  • Staff discussions
  • Increased staff visibility in specific locations
  • School newsletter communications
  • Building displays

View the complete policy, which contains the bullying incident reporting form.

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