PRINTER'S NO.  3720

  

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA

  

HOUSE BILL

 

No.

2464

Session of

2012

  

  

INTRODUCED BY QUIGLEY, MARSHALL, BOBACK, BOYD, B. BOYLE, BRADFORD, CHRISTIANA, COHEN, CONKLIN, D. COSTA, DALEY, ELLIS, FARRY, FLECK, GEIST, GILLESPIE, GINGRICH, GODSHALL, GOODMAN, GROVE, HARHAI, HARRIS, HESS, HORNAMAN, KAUFFMAN, KOTIK, MANN, McGEEHAN, MICOZZIE, MILLARD, MOUL, MULLERY, MUNDY, MURT, PASHINSKI, QUINN, READSHAW, SCAVELLO, CULVER, K. SMITH, STABACK, STEPHENS, VULAKOVICH, WATERS, WATSON AND YOUNGBLOOD, JUNE 12, 2012

  

  

REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, JUNE 12, 2012  

  

  

  

AN ACT

  

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Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An

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act relating to the public school system, including certain

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provisions applicable as well to private and parochial

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schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the

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laws relating thereto," in safe schools, further providing

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for policy relating to bullying; and providing for Department

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of Education requirements and responsibilities.

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The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

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hereby enacts as follows:

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Section 1.  Section 1303.1-A of the act of March 10, 1949

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(P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, added

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July 9, 2008 (P.L.846, No.61), is amended to read:

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Section 1303.1-A.  Policy Relating to Bullying.--(a)  No

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later than January 1, [2009] 2013, each school entity shall

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adopt a policy or amend its existing policy [relating to

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bullying] prohibiting harassment, intimidation, bullying and

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cyberbullying, and incorporate the policy into the school

 


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entity's code of student conduct required under 22 Pa. Code §

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12.3(c) (relating to school rules). The policy shall delineate

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disciplinary consequences for bullying and [may provide for

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prevention, intervention and education programs, provided that

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no school entity shall be required to establish a new policy

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under this section if one currently exists and reasonably

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fulfills the requirements of this section. The policy shall

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identify the appropriate school staff person to receive reports

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of incidents of alleged bullying.] shall identify by job title,

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the appropriate school staff person to receive reports of

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incidents of alleged bullying and the school officials

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responsible for ensuring that the policy is implemented. The

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school entity shall involve students, parents, administrators,

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school staff, school volunteers, community representatives and

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local law enforcement agencies in the process of adopting the

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policy. The school entity policy shall be implemented in a

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manner that is ongoing throughout the school year and integrated

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with the school's curriculum, discipline policies and other

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violence prevention efforts. Any discipline imposed under the

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policy must fall within the school entity's authority under

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section 510. The policy shall contain, at a minimum, the

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following components:

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(1)  (i)  A statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation,

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bullying or cyberbullying of a student.

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(ii)  A statement prohibiting retaliation or false accusation

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against a target, witness or one with reliable information about

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an act of bullying, harassment and intimidation.

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(iii)  A requirement that all students shall be protected

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regardless of their status under the law.

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(iv)  A statement that the school entity shall make the

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policy available on its publicly accessible Internet website, if

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available, in every classroom and shall post the policy at a

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prominent location within each school building where such

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notices are usually posted.

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(v)  A statement that the school entity shall ensure the

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policy and procedures for reporting bullying incidents are

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reviewed with students within ninety (90) days after their

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adoption and thereafter at least once per school year.

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(vi)  A statement that the school entity shall review its

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policy every three (3) years and annually provide the office

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with a copy of its policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation,

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bullying and cyberbullying, including information related to the

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development and implementation of any harassment, intimidation,

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bullying and cyberbullying prevention, intervention and

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education programs. The information required under this

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subsection shall be attached to or made part of the annual

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report required under section 1303-A(b). If the school entity

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reports acts of harassment, intimidation, bullying and

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cyberbullying to the office in accordance with section 1303-

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A(b), it shall report all incidents that qualify as harassment,

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intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying.

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(vii)  A procedure for providing immediate notification to

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the parents or guardian or a victim of harassment, intimidation,

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bullying or cyberbullying and the parents or guardian of the

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perpetrator of the harassment, intimidation, bullying or

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cyberbullying.

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(viii)  A statement that the policy shall apply to an

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electronic communication, whether or not the act originated on

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school property or with school equipment, so long as:

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(A)  a reasonable person should know, under the

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circumstances, that the act will have the effect of harming a

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student or damaging the student's property or placing a student

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in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his

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or her property; and has the effect of isolating or demeaning

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any student or group of students in such a way as to cause

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substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the

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orderly operation of the school; or

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(B)  the act is directed specifically at students, is

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intended for the purpose of disrupting school and has a high

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likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.

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(2)  (i)  A procedure for reporting an act of harassment,

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intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying, including a provision

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that permits a person to report the act anonymously. No formal

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disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an

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anonymous report.

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(ii)  A requirement that any school employe that has reliable

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information that would lead a reasonable person to suspect that

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a person is a target of harassment, intimidation, bullying or

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cyberbullying shall immediately report it to the principal or

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the principal's designee.

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(iii)  A procedure for each school to document any prohibited

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incident that is reported and a procedure to report all

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incidents of harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying

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and the resulting consequences, including discipline and

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referrals, to the State Board of Education on a semiannual

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basis.

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(iv)  A procedure for reporting to law enforcement all acts

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of harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying that may

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constitute criminal activity.

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(v)  A procedure for prompt investigation of reports of

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violations and complaints, identifying either the principal or

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the principal's designee as the person responsible for the

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investigation.

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(3)  (i)  Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a

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person who commits an act of harassment, intimidation, bullying

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or cyberbullying.

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(ii)  Consequences and appropriate remedial action for a

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student found to have falsely accused another as a means of

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retaliation, reprisal or as a means of harassment, intimidation,

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bullying or cyberbullying.

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(iii)  A strategy for providing counseling or referral to

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appropriate services, including guidance, academic intervention

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and protection to students, both targets and perpetrators

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affected by harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying

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as well as notification and counseling for their family members

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if doing so will not otherwise jeopardize the health, well-being

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and safety of the students.

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(iv)  Provisions for the formation of bullying prevention

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task forces, programs and other initiatives involving school

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staff, pupils, administrators, volunteers, parents, law

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enforcement, community members and other stakeholders, as deemed

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appropriate by the school entity.

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(4)  (i)  Annual training for administrators, school

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employees and volunteers who have significant contact with

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students in preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting

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incidents of harassment, intimidation, bullying or

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cyberbullying.

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(ii)  An educational program for students and parents in

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preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting incidents

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of harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying.

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(5)  A statement that no student shall be subjected to

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harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying in any

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public educational institution:

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(i)  during any education program or activity;

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(ii)  while in school, on school equipment or property, in

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school vehicles, on school buses, at designated school bus

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stops, at school-sponsored activities, at school-sanctioned

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events; or

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(iii)  through the use of data, telephone or computer

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software that is accessed through a computer, computer system or

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computer network of any public educational institution.

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[(b)  Each school entity shall make the policy available on

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its publicly accessible Internet website, if available, and in

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every classroom. Each school entity shall post the policy at a

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prominent location within each school building where such

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notices are usually posted. Each school entity shall ensure that

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the policy and procedures for reporting bullying incidents are

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reviewed with students within ninety (90) days after their

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adoption and thereafter at least once each school year.

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(c)  Each school entity shall review its policy every three

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(3) years and annually provide the office with a copy of its

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policy relating to bullying, including information related to

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the development and implementation of any bullying prevention,

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intervention and education programs. The information required

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under this subsection shall be attached to or made part of the

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annual report required under section 1303-A(b).]

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(d)  In its policy relating to bullying adopted or maintained

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under subsection (a), a school entity shall not be prohibited

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from defining bullying in such a way as to encompass acts that

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occur outside a school setting if those acts meet the

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requirements contained in subsection [(e)(1), (3) and (4)] (e)

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(1) and (3). If a school entity reports acts of bullying to the

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office in accordance with section 1303-A(b), it shall report all

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incidents that qualify as bullying under the entity's adopted

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definition of that term.

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(e)  For purposes of this article, ["bullying" shall mean an

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intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, or a

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series of acts:

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(1)  directed at another student or students;

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(2)  which occurs in a school setting;

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(3)  that is severe, persistent or pervasive; and

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(4)  that has the effect of doing any of the following:

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(i)  substantially interfering with a student's education;

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(ii)  creating a threatening environment; or

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(iii)  substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the

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school; and] "electronic communication" shall mean any

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communication through an electronic device including, but not

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limited to, a telephone, cellular telephone, computer or

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telephone pager, which communication included, but is not

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limited to, e-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, blogs,

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mobile telephones, telephone pager, online games and Internet

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websites;

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"harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying" shall

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mean any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic

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communication intended to:

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(A)  physically harm a student or damages the student's

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property;

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(B)  substantially interfere with a student's educational

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opportunities;

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(C)  be so severe, persisting or pervasive that it creates an

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intimidating or threatening educational environment; or

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(D)  substantially disrupt the orderly operation of school;

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and

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"school setting" shall mean in the school, on school grounds,

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in school buses, in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or

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at any activity or event sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by

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the school.

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Section 2.  The act is amended by adding a section to read:

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Section 1303.2-A.  Department of Education Requirements and

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Responsibilities.--(a)  The Department of Education shall have

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the following duties to enforce compliance with section 1303.1-

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A:

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(1)  Develop a model policy and training materials on the

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components that should be included in any school entity policy

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developed under section 1303.1-A.

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(2)  Periodically review school district programs, activities

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and services to determine whether the school boards are

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complying with section 1303.1-A.

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(3)  Compile and make available to all schools a list of

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programs appropriate for the prevention of harassment,

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intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying of students.

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(4)  Establish and maintain a central repository for the

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collection and analysis of information regarding harassment,

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intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying.

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(5)  Report to the General Assembly annually on the current

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levels and nature of harassment, intimidation and bullying in

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the schools and the effectiveness of school policies under this

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statute in combating harassment, intimidation, bullying or

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cyberbullying, including recommendations for appropriate actions

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to address identified problems.

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(b)  A school employe, school volunteer, student, parent or

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guardian who promptly reports in good faith an act of

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harassment, intimidation, bullying or cyberbullying to the

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appropriate school official designated in the school district's

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policy established under section 1303.1-A and who makes this

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report in compliance with the procedures set forth in the policy

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is immune from a cause of action for damages arising out of the

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reporting itself or any failure to remedy the reported incident.

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(c)  (1)  Distribution of safe schools funds to a school

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district shall be contingent upon the State Board of Education

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approval of each school district policy established under

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section 1303.1-A. The board's approval of each school district's

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policy shall be granted upon certification by the board that the

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school district's policy has been submitted to the board and is

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in substantial conformity with the board's model policy.

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(2)  Distribution of safe schools funds provided to a school

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district shall be contingent upon and payable to the school

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district upon the school district compliance with all reporting

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procedures contained in this section and section 1303.1-A.

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(d)  Nothing in this article shall be construed:

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(1)  to prevent a target of harassment, intimidation,

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bullying or cyberbullying from seeking redress under any other

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available law either civil or criminal; or

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(2)  to infringe upon the right of a school employe or

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student to engage in speech or expression protected by the

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Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of

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Pennsylvania.

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Section 3.  This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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