By: Amanda Sundquist
On October 28, 2010, I blogged about the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights issuing a “Dear Colleagues” letter addressing school districts’ obligations in regard to bullying and harassment of district students. In December 2010, the National School Boards Association wrote a letter to Office for Civil Rights to ask it clarify its position on several points in the “Dear Colleagues” letter, where the National School Boards Association found there to be potential conflict with existing laws and cases.
On March 25, 2011, the Office for Civil Rights issued a second “Dear Colleagues” letter in response to the National School Boards Association’s request for clarification.
The issuance of the latest “Dear Colleagues” letter is particular timely for Pennsylvania school districts. In 2008, Pennsylvania adopted an amendment to the School Code which specifically addressed bullying. The amendment required school districts to adopt or amend a bullying policy no later than January 1, 2009. School districts are required to review their bullying policy every three years. The Office for Civil Right’s new guidance can be considered by school districts conducting their three year review of the bullying policy in 2011.
For assistance with reviewing and amending your school district’s policies on bullying or harassment for compliance with federal and state law, please contact me in our West Chester Office.