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TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING ARTICLE 2 TO CHAPTER 63 OF TITLE 59 SO AS TO ENACT THE "SAFE SCHOOLS ACT" TO PREVENT SCHOOL HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, OR BULLYING, TO INSTRUCT LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO ADOPT A POLICY PROHIBITING HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, OR BULLYING THAT INCLUDES CERTAIN THINGS, TO DEVELOP A TRAINING PROCESS, AND TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. (A) The General Assembly finds that:
(1) A safe and civil environment in school is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards.
(2) Harassment, intimidation, and bullying, like other disruptive or violent behaviors, are conducts that disrupt both a student's ability to learn and a school's ability to educate its students in a safe environment.
(3) Since students learn by example, school administrators, faculty, staff, and volunteers should be commended for demonstrating appropriate behavior, treating others with civility and respect, and refusing to tolerate harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(B) The purpose of this act is to protect the health and welfare of, and improve the learning environment for South Carolina school children.
SECTION 2. Chapter 63, Title 59 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 59-63-110. This article may be cited as the 'Safe Schools Act'.
Section 59-63-120. As used in this article:
(1) 'Harassment, intimidation, or bullying' means a gesture or written, verbal, physical, or sexual act that is reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental, physical or sensory disability, height, weight, socioeconomic status, or by another distinguishing characteristic that:
(a) a reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, has the effect of harming a student or damaging a student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of personal harm or property damage; or
(b) has the effect of insulting or demeaning a student or group of students causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.
(2) 'School' means in a classroom, elsewhere on or immediately adjacent to school premises, on a school bus or other school-related vehicle, at an official school bus stop, at a school-sponsored activity or event whether or not it is held on school premises, or at another program or function where the school is responsible for the child.
Section 59-63-130. (A) A person may not engage in:
(1) harassment, intimidation, or bullying; or
(2) reprisal, retaliation, or false accusation against a victim, witness, or one with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
(B) A school employee, student, or volunteer who witnesses, or has reliable information that a student has been subject to harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall report the incident to the appropriate school official.
Section 59-63-140. (A) Before September 1, 2006, each local school district shall adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying at school. The school district shall involve parents and guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and community representatives in the process of adopting the policy.
(B) The content of the policy must be determined locally, but must contain at least the following components:
(1) a statement prohibiting harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student;
(2) a definition of harassment, intimidation, or bullying no less inclusive than the definition in Section 59-63-120;
(3) a description of the type of behavior expected from each student;
(4) consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who commits an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying;
(5) a procedure for reporting an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, including a provision that permits a person to report an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying anonymously. This item does not permit formal disciplinary action solely on the basis of an anonymous report;
(6) a procedure for prompt investigation of reports of serious violations and complaints, identifying either the principal or the principal's designee as the person responsible for the investigation;
(7) the range of ways in which a school plans to respond once an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying is confirmed;
(8) a statement that prohibits reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, and the consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation;
(9) consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another;
(10) a statement of how the policy is to be publicized, including notice that the policy applies to participation in school-sponsored functions; and
(11) the toll-free telephone number, 1-888-NO-BULLY, established by the South Carolina Attorney General's Office to receive reports on school violence and to give out useful information.
(C) To assist local school districts in developing policies for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying, the State Board of Education shall develop model policies applicable to grades kindergarten through twelve. These model policies must be issued no later than December 1, 2005.
(D) The local school board shall ensure that notice of the school district's policy developed pursuant to this article is included in a school district publication of the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for schools within the school district, and in a student handbook.
(E) Information regarding a local school district policy against harassment, intimidation, or bullying must be incorporated into a school's employee training program.
(F) Schools and school districts are encouraged to establish bullying prevention programs and other initiatives involving school staff, students, administrators, volunteers, parents, law enforcement, and community members.
(G) To the extent funds are appropriated for these purposes, a local school district shall:
(1) provide training on the school district's harassment, intimidation, or bullying policies to school employees and volunteers who have significant contact with students; and
(2) develop a process for discussing the district's harassment, intimidation, or bullying policy with students.
(H) Schools shall include on the report cards information related to the development and implementation of bullying prevention programs, including a report on the number of bullying incidents.
Section 59-63-150. (A) This section must not be interpreted to prevent a victim from seeking redress pursuant to another available civil or criminal law. This section does not create or alter tort liability.
(B) A school employee or volunteer who promptly reports an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying to the appropriate school official designated by the local school district's policy, and who makes this report in compliance with the procedures in the district's policy, is immune from a cause of action for damages arising from failure to remedy the reported incident."
SECTION 3. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 2:25 P.M.