By Michelle Ball, Sacramento California Expulsion, Special Education, sports/CIF, College, Education and School Attorney/Lawyer for Students since 1995
School bullying can be very destructive and even deadly, if not addressed promptly. Schools are in the best position to investigate and prevent student bullying as often bullying occurs on school campuses. Parents and students must learn about school obligations to stop and resolve student bullying.
School Bullying Investigations Are Mandatory
In an official opinion letter from the United States Department of Education (USDOE) to all school districts, “Dear Colleague Letter: Harassment and Bullying”, the USDOE explains that schools are in the best position to investigate and stop bullying and harassment. In fact, schools have a legal duty to investigate student bullying and stop it.
“A school is responsible for addressing harassment incidents about which it knows or reasonably should have known. In some situations, harassment may be in plain sight, widespread, or well-known to students and staff, such as harassment occurring in hallways, during academic or physical education classes, during extracurricular activities, at recess, on a school bus, or through graffiti in public areas. In these cases, the obvious signs of the harassment are sufficient to put the school on notice. In other situations, the school may become aware of misconduct, triggering an investigation that could lead to the discovery of additional incidents that, taken together, may constitute a hostile environment…
“When responding to harassment, a school must take immediate and appropriate action to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred… In all cases… the inquiry should be prompt, thorough, and impartial…
“[A]school must take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring. These duties are a school’s responsibility … regardless of whether a student has complained, asked the school to take action, or identified the harassment as a form of discrimination.” [emphasis added]
Schools Know Bullying Goes On, But Frequently Do Nothing
It is impossible that student bullying on school campuses is not observed frequently by school staff and teachers. School staff are in the same area where student abuse occurs but often don’t report the bullying.
This teacher bullying observation triggers a school duty to investigate and implement steps to help the bullied student.
Unfortunately, school bullying investigations often do not occur. In that case, the bullying may remain unknown until it is too late.
Student bullying prevention lawyer Michelle Ball assists parents and students to end bullying in schools. If schools are ignoring a parent or situation, parents can do something about it. As a Sacramento California bullying attorney, Michelle Ball can help in Elk Grove, Natomas, Roseville, Auburn, Woodland, Davis, Fairfield, San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, Riverside and many other locations.