Checking into harassment, intimidation and bullying reports

3/16/2017 | TACOMA, Washington

TPS Students and Families,

Thank you for taking the time to share your personal stories and concerns on Facebook. We take harassment, intimidation and bullying (HIB) seriously. Every student has the right to feel safe and supported at school.

Next steps
Right now, our Student Life team is reading and reviewing each individual post. Student Life will work closely with building principals, teachers and staff to follow-up on current HIB concerns/issues, plans and revise plans as needed. Additionally, we will follow-up and investigate on any posts that appear to be previously unidentified or new cases.

Our approach
Sometimes youth make choices that are not in the best interest of themselves, others or the community around them. As educators, we believe in restorative practices to support students. That means we do not automatically suspend aggressors in every harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying case. We work to keep kids in school, help them learn from their mistakes, and learn how to be better communicators and citizens. This is part of our overall Whole Child Initiative and outlined in our student conduct policy. Every situation is unique, and we evaluate each one on a case-by-case basis.

Important facts

  • In cases we investigate, because of student privacy laws, HIB victims and their families will not hear what discipline or other actions a school has taken in response to an alleged aggressor. Just because a targeted student doesn’t hear of any discipline doesn’t mean it hasn’t occurred.   
  • When we investigate, we don’t always find clear evidence that HIB took place. But we do take steps to help students feel safe at school. If additional information surfaces, we re-investigate and make adjustments to safety plans. These plans can involve:
    • Identifying trusted adults in the building.
    • Identifying a process should issues resurface.
    • Establishing no contact between the students, or exploring conversations with families about possibly bringing the students together for a discussion.
    • Checking in with the school counselor for the targeted student and possibly the aggressor, and discussing with families what steps targeted students can take.
  • We also work to ensure that students feel safe if they report harassment, intimidation or bullying and that they don’t suffer any type of retaliation for making a report in good faith.

We work with students to prepare them for their next steps in life by teaching good faith skills to communicate and manage differences when they have opposing opinions and strong emotions. These are lifelong skills they will need in college and the work place. This is partly why we’re evolving to a Whole Child approach. We want students to have their voice, and be prepared to share their perspectives in a safe, respectful way when their emotions are strong.

We strive to prevent, intervene in, and reduce incidents of harassment, intimidation and bullying. This is important in the development of the whole child and our Tacoma community.  

If   a student feels that they are being harassed, intimidated or bullied in the school setting, please report  it directly to the Assistant Principal or Principal at the school or to the Student Life Department: https://www.tacomaschools.org/student-life/Pages/HIB.aspx

 
Additional links to policies and regulations

Thank you,
Jennifer Kubista
Director of Student Life