UnifiEd and our Student Voice Team is calling for the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) to immediately comply with state law mandating an adequate bullying and harassment policy and to launch an independent investigation of all policies and procedures related to bullying. We need you to contact your local School Board members in support of policy changes that will ensure the safety of all students in Hamilton County.
Show your support in these three ways:
1. Contact your local School Board member to let them know you want HCDE’s bullying and harassment policy to comply with state law and for the School Board to launch an independent investigation of all policies and procedures related to bullying. Write a letter, send an email, or make a phone call and let them know this issue is important to you. Find out who your local school board member is HERE. Find contact information for your local School Board member HERE.
2. Attend the School Board Work Session this Thursday, January 14 at 5pm at the Hamilton County Department of Education (3074 Hickory Valley Rd). The meeting will include an agenda session, a policy committee meeting to look at policies and procedures concerning bullying/harassment/field trips/athletics, and a public forum allowing community members to address the board with questions and concerns about the Ooltewah incident.
3. Attend the regularly scheduled School Board Meeting next Thursday, January 21 at 5pm at the Hamilton County Department of Education (3074 Hickory Valley Rd). Join us in supporting our Student Voice Team as they present their findings concerning bullying and harassment in our public schools.
UnifiEd’s Student Voice Team has worked with over 100 students from 16 different schools in Hamilton County to advocate for policy change within public schools. We all agree bullying and harassment is one of the most pressing issues facing students today. Our team has been working since last year to bring attention to bullying and discrimination in schools. We learned that the current HCDE Policy 6.304 regarding Student Discrimination/Harassment/Hazing and Bullying/Intimidation does not comply with state law (Tenn. Code Ann. 49-6-4503). The Student Voice Team’s review of HCDE’s policy suggests that 5 of the 13 required provisions are missing or inadequate:
- A procedure for anonymous reporting
- A statement of the consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports an act of harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber bullying
- A description of the type of behavior expected from each student
- A procedure for discouraging and reporting conduct aimed at defining a student in a sexual manner or conduct impugning the character of a student based on allegations of sexual promiscuity
- A statement of the manner in which a school district shall respond after an act of harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying is reported, investigated, and confirmed
Having procedures in place that support anonymous reporting is essential to ensuring the safety of all students. The School Board needs to work with students to create a centralized method of reporting that empowers students to be honest about what’s going on in our schools and provide support for victims. While school administrators cannot base disciplinary action on anonymous reports, they are useful in tracking and responding to problems associated with harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
UnifiEd’s Student Voice Team is currently working with students across the county to create a policy draft they believe will best serve students and address the issue of increased bullying and harassment in public schools. We know this is not just about one incident or one school and we are dedicated to making policy changes that will benefit all students in Hamilton County. Now is the time to do your part!
If you have any questions regarding our Bullying and Harassment Campaign, please contact one of our student organizers via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out these news stories highlighting the importance of bullying/harassment policy reform: