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Columbia Public Schools explains how it defines bullying

Columbia Public Schools' Chief Equity Officer said the school looks for repetitive behavior when deeming something bullying. (MGN Online)

Columbia Public Schools said it was working with teachers to help them learn to recognize bullying behavior.

The district looked to state law for a definition of bullying, publishing it along with its policy online.

CPS said bullying is, "intimidation, unwanted aggressive behavior, or harassment that is repetitive or is substantially likely to be repeated and causes a reasonable student to fear for his or her physical safety or property; that substantially interferes with the educational performance, opportunities or benefits of any student without exception; or that substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school."

The district's chief equity officer said it can be difficult to decide what is bullying and what is mean behavior.

"We look for something that happens more than once. That typically raises a red flag. There's mean behavior. There's, 'I'm not going to sit by you at lunch,' that's not necessarily bullying, but when it rises to a level of a student is uncomfortable coming to school, they're afraid to be in the hallway, then that is something that we need to take seriously," Chief Equity Officer Carla London said.

The district defined cyberbullying as, "a form of bullying committed by transmission of a communication including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound or image by means of an electronic device including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or pager. The district has jurisdiction over cyberbullying that uses the district's technology resources or that originates on district property, at activities or technology resources."

The district said bullying includes but is not limited to: physical actions, including violence, gestures, theft, or property damage; oral, written, or electronic communication, including name-calling, put-downs, extortion, or threats; or threats of reprisal or retaliation for reporting such acts.

London said school staff and parents can submit bullying reports online.

"A parent can go online because sometimes a child doesn't feel comfortable saying in school what happened so they may go home and disclose what happened so we wanted that to be accessible for parents," London said.

London said if a student reports bullying at school staff members, teachers, and principals will file a bullying report. She said those staff members, teachers, and principals can also file a report if they first notice the behavior.

Once a report is filed, London said the principal has two school days to initiate an investigation into the bullying. She also said the investigation must be completed in ten school days.

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