(October 25, 2011): As set out under Maryland law, "All students in Maryland's public schools, without exception and regardless of race, ethnicity, region, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, age, or disability, have the right to educational environments that are safe, appropriate for academic achievement, and free from any form of harassment."
I. Maryland Bullying Provisions:
Code §7-424 (2008) defines bullying, harassment and intimidation, including electronic bullying, and requires local boards of education to submit an annual report to the Department of Education citing incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation against students in public schools. An incident may be reported by a staff member, student, or the parent, guardian or close adult relative of a student. The Department is also required to create and distribute standard victim of bullying, harassment and intimidation report forms. The requirements for these forms are outlined in the statute. The Department of Education is then required to submit an annual summary of the reports to the Senate.
Code §7-424.1 (2008) requires the State Board to develop a model policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, or intimidation in schools. The model policy shall include the following: (1) A statement prohibiting bullying, harassment, and intimidation in schools; (2) A statement prohibiting reprisal or retaliation against individuals who report acts, (3) A definition of bullying, harassment, or intimidation that is either the same as set forth in Code §7-424 (2008) or another definition not less inclusive, (4) Standard consequences and remedial actions for persons committing acts, for persons engaged in reprisal or retaliation, and for persons found to have made false accusations; (5) Model procedures for reporting and investigation of acts; and (6) Information about support services for bullies, victims and bystanders and about the use of the reporting form.
Code §7-424.1 (2008) also requires each County Board shall establish a policy prohibiting bullying, harassment, or intimidation at school based on the model policy. Specific requirements of the policy are outlined in the Code. The policy must be published in student handbooks, school system websites and other appropriate locations. Each County Board is required to develop, in conjunction with the policy, an educational program for students, staff, volunteers and parents, and a training program for teachers and administrators for policy implementation.
II. Maryland Cyber-Bullying Provisions:
Code §7-424 (2008) includes an intentional electronic communication in its definition of bullying, harassment and intimidation and requires local boards of education to submit an annual report to the Department of Education citing incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation against students in public schools. It defines "Electronic communication" as a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including a telephone, cellular phone, computer, or pager. The policy each County Board is required to develop must include a definition of bullying and harassment the same or not less inclusive as that set forth in Code §7-424.1 (2008).