September 12, 2008
Dear Parents, Guardians, Students and Staff:
When the original legislation regarding bullying activity was passed, the Connecticut legislature, in an attempt to address a very serious concern, used very general, broad language.In the years since the passage of this landmark legislation, and as a result of concerns raised by parents, students and school personnel, the law was modified for implementation on July 1 2009, with new procedures to be presented to the State Department of Education by February 1, 2009.I believe the current bullying policy of Region 10 needed to be strengthened and updated to the higher standards and as a result we began work in late spring 2008 to make the necessary changes.
During the summer months, in conjunction with our administrators and school attorney, Region 10 updated our “Bullying Policy”.The policy has been reviewed, revised and was presented to the Board of Education at its September 8th meeting for adoption.I am pleased to inform you that the board did accept the recommendations and the new policy is effective immediately.
I have enclosed a copy of the new policy and an incident report for your review.Please take the time to discuss this policy with your child and the need to report each incident and the consequences for those students who violate the policy.
The prior law defined bullying as an overt act or acts by one or more students intended to ridicule, humiliate or intimidate that are repeated over time against another student on school grounds, at a school sponsored activity, or on a school bus. The new policy eliminates the requirement that these acts be repeated against the same student over time and instead requires only that those acts of bullying be committed more than once against any student during the school year.
School staff who witness or receive reports of bullying are to notify the school administrators immediately.All notifications must be made in writing.The new policy also requires administrators to investigate all written reports rather than just those made by parents or guardians.The law requires school personnel to investigate anonymous reports.The law provides that no disciplinary action can be taken based solely on an anonymous report.The new law specifies that each school must invite each parent or guardian of an accused bully to at least one school meeting.
The law further requires schools to keep a list of the number of verified acts of bullying and to make it available for public inspection.The act requires each school to annually report that number to the State Department of Education.
Most importantly, are prevention and intervention strategies.The policy requires extensive intervention and prevention strategies at all levels.During the summer we reviewed our current intervention strategies and have begun to put in place stronger, more effective interactive activities for our students.Intervention and prevention requires a team effort.School and home must firmly believe that teasing or bullying of any kind is unacceptable and that the consequences are both immediate and serious.To that end, the district administrators have also been directed to
take a stronger position with regard to disciplinary action when pre-bullying and bullying activities have been identified.
To ease reporting we are utilizing the Region 10 Web page, www.region10ct.org, where a downloadable incident report form will be available.In addition, blank forms will be available at the schools where parents and guardians are always welcome to come to meet with the building principal and to complete a form there or faxing, pdf or mailing the form back to the school.Last year we distributed Superintendent’s Safety Telephone Line magnets.If you need a new magnet please ask your building principal.
In addition, to public act 08-160-sHB5826 and our updated bullying policy, is a new in-school suspension policy.The law delays implementation until July 2009. However, I have directed the building principals to begin, where appropriate, assigning in-school suspension rather than out-of-school suspension.We are awaiting guidelines from the State Department of Education.Once we have received those guidelines, we will review them and make adjustments accordingly to our discipline policy.
As always Region 10 strives to maintain a safe school learning environment.Home communication, cooperation and support are essential for all student success.We are fortunate to have strong parental support, well-trained and professional staff and wonderful students to work with.With your continued support and cooperation our joint efforts can help make Region 10 Schools a model for the region and for the state.
Superintendent of Schools
Ms. Karissa Niehoff, Principal, Lewis Mills High School
Ms. Pamela Lazaroski, Assistant Principal, Lewis Mills High School
Mr. Kenneth M. Smith, Principal, Har-Bur Middle School
Mr. Peter Bogen, Assistant Principal, Har-Bur Middle School
Mrs. Martha Rouleau, Assistant Principal, Har-Bur Middle School
Mrs. Maureen Dodd, Principal, Harwinton Consolidated School
Mrs. Megan Mazzei, Assistant Principal, Harwinton Consolidated School
Mr. Robert Choiniere, Principal, Lake Garda School
Mr. Robert Garry, Assistant Principal, Lake Garda School
Trooper Michael Burke, Student Resource Officer