08 Nov 2012

Under Texas law, “bullying” means: 1) engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct that occurs on school property, at a school-sponsored or school-related activity, or in a vehicle operated by the district and that: has the effect or will have the effect of physically harming a student, damaging a student’s property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or of damage to the student’s property; or, 2) is sufficiently severe, persistent, and pervasive enough that the action or threat creates an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student.  The conduct is considered bullying if that conduct:  1) exploits an imbalance of power between the student perpetrator and the student victim through written or verbal expression or physical conduct; and,  2)  interferes with a student’s education or substantially disrupts the operation of a school.

Every school in Texas is required to have a policy on bullying that: 1) prohibits the bullying of a student; 2) prohibits retaliation against any person, including a victim, a witness, or another person, who in good faith provides information concerning an incident of bullying; 3) establishes a procedure for providing notice of an incident of bullying to a parent or guardian of the victim and a parent or guardian of the bully within a reasonable amount of time after the incident; 4) establishes the actions a student should take to obtain assistance and intervention in response to bullying; 5) sets out the available counseling options for a student who is a victim of or a witness to bullying or who engages in bullying; 6) establishes procedures for reporting an incident of bullying, investigating a reported incident of bullying, and determining whether the reported incident of bullying occurred; 7) prohibits the imposition of a disciplinary measure on a student who, after an investigation, is found to be a victim of bullying, on the basis of that student’s use of reasonable self-defense in response to the bullying; and, 8) requires that discipline for bullying of a student with disabilities comply with applicable requirements under federal law, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The Texas anti-bullying law were passed in 2011 and most schools are working on drafting, implementing and enforcing policies that comply with the law.  As parents, we must not only be aware of the anti-bullying laws, we must hold our schools accountable for enforcing the required laws aimed at making our schools safe for ALL our kids.

Texas anti-bullying statutes can be found in the Texas Education Code, Sections 25 and 37.