Federal Laws Pertaining to School Bullying

This page will focus on informing parents and or guardians on the issues that may come before them involving bullying in the schools.  Public schools are under the guise of state law.  In Florida for example there is a section of the Florida Statutes which pertain to Education Law: specifically under XLVIII K-20 Education Code.

Chapter 1001 K-20 Governance:
Part 1 addresses State Level Governance
Part 2 addresses School District Governance
Part 3 addresses Florida College System Insitutions
Part addresses State Universities
There are over 13 chapters related to Educational Governance in Florida
Title XLVIII K-20 Educational Code for Florida

If the public school is receiving Federal Funding including colleges and universities, it is required by federal law to address discrimination or harassment is based on the following:

Peer Harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex, or disability. The harassment or discrimination has to be sufficiently serious that it creates a hostile environment and such harassment is encouraged, tolerated, not adequately addressed or ignored by school employees.. The statutes the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces include:
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VI), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin;
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex;
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504); and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II). Section 504 and Title II prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability.
While current laws enforced by OCR do not protect against harassment based on religion or sexual orientation, they do include protection against harassment of members of religious groups based on shared ethnic characteristics as well as gender-based and sexual harassment of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. Stop Bullying.Gov

Here is a link to Stop Bullying.Gov from the Office of Civil Rights pertaining to  Bullying and Harassment and Facts for parents to read before pulling their child out of school.  Parents need to be educated.  Throwing up your hands in despair is not the way to handle most school bullying type situations.  Educate yourself on how to proceed and then if necessary contact a lawyer to help you navigate through the channels.    http://www.stopbullying.gov/topics/civil_violation/

If you have determined that your child may be a victim to bullying under Federal Statute then it is important for the you as the parent to make contact with the school to give them notice that your child is being harassed.  You can do this through email or phone call to set up a meeting.  It is also a good idea to back up conversations with emails so you have a paper trail.  Once the school knows or reasonable knows, in accordance with the stopbullying.gov website, it must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or determine what has occurred.

If harassment has occurred a school must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and prevent is recurrence.  These duties are a school's responsibility even if the misconduct is also covered by an anti-bullying policy regardless of whether the student makes a complaint, asks the school to take action or identifies harassment as a form of discrimination.
Many states have in place state laws addressing bullying.  You may notice in the particular school districts code of conduct or handbook that bullying is addressed and noted in the materials are a procedure or course of conduct that the parents must adhere to regarding informing the school of their child's bullying issues.  The school district may have their ways of dealing with the harassment such as policies.  Parents should follow this grievance process but should also keep in mind that they the parents, at the end of this grievance process or if the violations in federal law have not stopped. The parents can file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights. [see below]
How can I get help from OCR?
OCR offers technical assistance to help schools achieve voluntary compliance with the civil rights laws it enforces and works with schools to develop creative approaches to preventing and addressing discrimination.A complaint of discrimination can be filed by anyone who believes that a school that receives Federal financial assistance has discriminated against someone on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age. The person or organization filing the complaint need not be a victim of the alleged discrimination, but may complain on behalf of another person or group. Information about how to file a complaint with OCR is at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html or by contacting OCR’s Customer Service Team at 1
8004213481. 1

Contacting OCR

OCR Complaint Form

An attorney can assist you in the Office of Civil Rights Process.

OCR also enforces the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 and the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act. The DCL does not address these statutes.

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