Language in a school policy which addresses discrimination and intimidation of students is being considered for revision by the Bedford County School Board.
The language is a recommended addition based on a review by the Tennessee School Board Association and adds provisions against cyber-bullying. If passed at the April meeting, the change may rescind a policy last revised in November 2005.
The policy was discussed at a study session last week.
The three-page policy currently reads, "The policy addresses conduct taking place on school grounds, at any school-sponsored activity, on school-provided transportation, or at any school bus stop immediately before boarding and immediately following deboarding."
The suggested revision adds "on school or personally provided equipment" before the word transportation and then adds, "if the act either physically harms a student or damages his/her property, or knowingly places the student in reasonable fear of such, causes emotional distress to a student or students, or creates a hostile educational environment.
"If the act takes place off school property or outside of a school-sponsored activity, an act of harassment, bullying or intimidation occurs if the act is directed specifically at a student or students and has the effect of creating a hostile educational environment or otherwise creating a substantial disruption to the educational environment or learning process. These acts may also take place through electronic means."
The language reflects to Tennessee Code Annotated 49-6-1014-1019, which went into effect July 1, 2011.
If a student is using a personal computer or smart phone at home in a way that creates a hostile learning environment, and those uses create a hostile learning environment for another student -- and the usage may be documented -- then action may be taken.
According to Dr. Ray Butrum, superintendent, there have not been any reported incidences of cyber-bullying among students this school year.
"Cyber-bullying is not a huge issue for us in the schools," said Butrum. "Is it an issue on social networks? Yes. But it's going to be an issue on social networks forever."
The policy also adds this sentence, "Coaches and other employees of the school district shall not encourage, permit, condone or tolerate hazing activities."