Statements » AB 34: Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment, and Suicide Prevention

AB 34: Bullying, Discrimination, Harassment, and Suicide Prevention

 
AB 34 Ramos. Pupils: bullying and harassment prevention information.

The Safe Place to Learn Act requires the State Department of Education to assess whether local educational agencies have taken certain actions related to educational equity, including adopting a policy that prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on specified characteristics, such as disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of the specified characteristics. At the beginning of the first semester or quarter of the regular school term, existing law requires the governing board of a school district to notify the parent or guardian of a minor pupil regarding the right or responsibility of the parent or guardian under specified provisions. Existing law requires that notice to include, among other things, a copy of the school district’s written sexual harassment policy, as it relates to pupils.

This bill would, commencing with the 2020–21 academic year, require each local educational agency, as defined, to ensure that specified information on bullying and harassment prevention is readily accessible in a prominent location on the local educational agency’s existing internet website in a manner that is easily accessible to parents or guardians and pupils. The bill would require local educational agencies to include specified State Department of Education policies and the policies adopted by a local educational agency relating to hate violence, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and suicide prevention and resources relating to these topics. The bill would, contingent upon the enactment of AB 1767 of the 2019–20 Regular Session, also require each local educational agency to ensure that the local educational agency’s policy on pupil suicide prevention in kindergarten and grades 1 to 6, inclusive, is readily accessible on the local educational agency’s existing internet website, as specified above. By requiring school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to ensure specified information on bullying and harassment prevention is readily accessible in a prominent location on the local educational agency’s existing internet website, the bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The Governing Board recognizes that suicide is a leading cause of death among youth and that school personnel who regularly interact with students are often in a position to recognize the warning signs of suicide and to offer appropriate referral and/or assistance. In an effort to reduce suicidal behavior and its impact on students and families, the Superintendent or designee shall develop measures and strategies for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention.
 
In developing measures and strategies for use by the district, the Superintendent or designee may consult with school health professionals, school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, administrators, other staff, parents/guardians, students, suicide prevention experts, local health agencies, mental health professionals, and community organizations.
 
 
The Governing Board desires to provide a positive school environment that protects the safety and well-being of district students. The Board expects all adults with whom students may interact at school or in school-related activities, including employees, independent contractors, and volunteers, to maintain the highest professional and ethical standards in their interactions with students both within and outside the educational setting. Such adults shall not engage in unlawful or inappropriate interactions with students and shall avoid boundary-blurring behaviors that undermine trust in the adult-student relationship and lead to the appearance of impropriety.
 
In order to create a safe learning environment for all students, the Governing Board desires to protect the right of every student to be free from hate-motivated behavior and will promote harmonious relationships among students so as to enable them to gain a true understanding of the civil rights and social responsibilities of people in society. The district prohibits discriminatory behavior or statements that degrade an individual on the basis of his/her actual or perceived race, ethnicity, culture, heritage, gender, sex, sexual orientation, physical/mental attributes, or religious beliefs or practices.
 
The Superintendent or designee shall collaborate with regional programs and community organizations to promote safe environments for youth. These efforts shall be focused on providing an efficient use of district and community resources.
 
The district shall provide age-appropriate instruction to help promote an understanding of and respect for human rights, diversity, and tolerance in a multicultural society and to provide strategies to manage conflicts constructively.
 
The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that staff receive training on recognizing hate-motivated behavior and on strategies to help respond appropriately to such behavior.
 
 
The Governing Board desires to provide a safe school environment that allows all students equal access and opportunities in the district's academic and other educational support programs, services, and activities. The Board prohibits, at any district school or school activity, unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, and bullying of any student based on the student's actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or gender expression or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
 
This policy shall apply to all acts related to school activity or to school attendance occurring within a district school. (Education Code 234.1)
 
Unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying, includes physical, verbal, nonverbal, or written conduct based on any of the categories listed above. Unlawful discrimination also shall include the creation of a hostile environment when the prohibited conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity; creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment; has the effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a student's academic performance; or otherwise adversely affects a student's educational opportunities.
 
Unlawful discrimination also includes disparate treatment of students based on one of the categories above with respect to the provision of opportunities to participate in school programs or activities or the provision or receipt of educational benefits or services.
 
The Board also prohibits any form of retaliation against any individual who files or otherwise participates in the filing or investigation of a complaint or report regarding an incident of discrimination. Retaliation complaints shall be investigated and resolved in the same manner as a discrimination complaint.
 
The Superintendent or designee shall facilitate students' access to the educational program by publicizing the district's nondiscrimination policy and related complaint procedures to students, parents/guardians, and employees. He/she shall provide training and information on the scope and use of the policy and complaint procedures and take other measures designed
to increase the school community's understanding of the requirements of law related to discrimination. The Superintendent or designee shall regularly review the implementation of the district's nondiscrimination policies and practices and, as necessary, shall take action to remove any identified barrier to student access to or participation in the educational program. He/she shall report his/her findings and recommendations to the Board after each review.
 
Bullying means any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act, directed toward one or more students that has or can reasonably be predicted to have the effect of placing a reasonable student in fear of harm to himself/herself or his/her property; cause the student to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his/her physical or mental health; or cause the student to experience substantial interference with his/her academic performance or ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school. (Education Code 48900(r))
 
Bullying includes any act of sexual harassment, hate violence, or harassment, threat, or intimidation, as defined in Education Code 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4 and below in items #1-3 of "Additional Grounds for Suspension and Expulsion: Grades 4-12," that has any of the effects described above on a reasonable student.
 
Bullying also includes an act of cyber sexual bullying by a student through the dissemination of, or the solicitation or incitement to disseminate, a photograph or other visual recording that depicts a nude, semi-nude, or sexually explicit photograph or other visual recording of an identifiable minor, when such dissemination is to another student or to school personnel by means of an electronic act and has or can be reasonably predicted to have one or more of the effects of bullying described above. Cyber sexual bullying does not include a depiction, portrayal, or image that has any serious literary, artistic, educational, political, or scientific value or that involves athletic events or school-sanctioned activities.
 
Electronic act means the creation or transmission originated on or off the school site by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone, or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager, of a communication including, but not limited to: (Education Code 48900(r))
 
 
For purposes of this chapter, harassment and other discrimination on the basis of sex include, but are not limited to, the following practices:
  • (a) On the basis of sex, exclusion of a person or persons from participation in, denial of the benefits of, or subjection to harassment or other discrimination in, any academic, extracurricular, research, occupational training, or other program or activity.
  • (b) On the basis of sex, provision of different amounts or types of student financial aid, limitation of eligibility for student financial aid, or the application of different criteria to applicants for student financial aid or for participation in the provision of student financial aid by others. Nothing in this subdivision shall be construed to prohibit an educational institution from administering, or assisting in the administration of, scholarships, fellowships, or other forms of student financial aid, established pursuant to domestic or foreign wills, bequests, trusts, or similar legal instruments or by acts of a foreign government, which require that awards be made to members of a particular sex; provided, that the overall effect of the award of these sex-restricted scholarships, fellowships, and other forms of student financial aid does not discriminate on the basis of sex.
  • (c) On the basis of sex, exclusion from participation in, or denial of equivalent opportunity in, athletic programs. For purposes of this subdivision, “equivalent” means equal or equal in effect.
  • (d) An educational institution may be found to have effectively accommodated the interests and abilities in athletics of both sexes within the meaning of Section 4922 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations as that section exists on January 1, 2003, using any one of the following tests:
    1. Whether interscholastic level participation opportunities for male and female pupils are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments.
    2. Where the members of one sex have been and are underrepresented among interscholastic athletes, whether the school district can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion that is demonstrably responsive to the developing interest and abilities of the members of that sex.
    3. Where the members of one sex are underrepresented among interscholastic athletes, and the institution cannot show a history and continuing practice of program expansion as required in paragraph (2), whether the school district can demonstrate that the interest and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program.
  • (e) If an educational institution must cut its athletic budget, the educational institution shall do so consistently with its legal obligation to comply with both state and federal gender equity laws.
  • (f) It is the intent of the Legislature that the three-part test articulated in subdivision (d) be interpreted as it has been in the policies and regulations of the Office of Civil Rights in effect on January 1, 2003.
  • (g) On the basis of sex, harassment or other discrimination among persons, including, but not limited to, students and nonstudents, or academic and nonacademic personnel, in employment and the conditions thereof, except as it relates to a bona fide occupational qualification.
  • (h) On the basis of sex, the application of any rule concerning the actual or potential parental, family, or marital status of a person, or the exclusion of any person from any program or activity or employment because of pregnancy or related conditions.
 
(Amended by Stats. 2003, Ch. 660, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2004.)

 

The following list of rights, which are based on the relevant provisions of the federal regulations implementing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1681 et seq.), may be used by the department for purposes of Section 221.6:
 
  • (a) You have the right to fair and equitable treatment and you shall not be discriminated against based on your sex.
  • (b) You have the right to be provided with an equitable opportunity to participate in all academic extracurricular activities, including athletics.
  • (c) You have the right to inquire of the athletic director of your school as to the athletic opportunities offered by the school.
  • (d) You have the right to apply for athletic scholarships.
  • (e) You have the right to receive equitable treatment and benefits in the provision of all of the following:
    • Equipment and supplies.
    • Scheduling of games and practices.
    • Transportation and daily allowances.
    • Access to tutoring.
    • Coaching.
    • Locker rooms.
    • Practice and competitive facilities.
    • Medical and training facilities and services.
    • Publicity.
  • (f) You have the right to have access to a gender equity coordinator to answer questions regarding gender equity laws.
  • (g) You have the right to contact the State Department of Education and the California Interscholastic Federation to access information on gender equity laws.
  • (h) You have the right to file a confidential discrimination complaint with the United States Office of Civil Rights or the State Department of Education if you believe you have been discriminated against or if you believe you have received unequal treatment on the basis of your sex.
  • (i) You have the right to pursue civil remedies if you have been discriminated against.
  • (j) You have the right to be protected against retaliation if you file a discrimination complaint.

(Added by renumbering Section 271 by Stats. 2015, Ch. 43, Sec. 3. (AB 1538) Effective January 1, 2016.)
Title IX and Non-discrimination refer to federal and state anti-discrimination laws that ensure equality in education:
Students have the right to equal learning opportunities in their schools.
  • Students and employees may not be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to harassment or other forms of discrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression in any program or activity.
  • All SPORTS are open to all students irrespective to sex.
  • Students may not be required to take and/or may not be denied enrollment in a course because of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  • Students have the right to be evaluated and graded without regard to their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
  • Students must be provided counseling and guidance that is not discriminatory.
  • Schools must offer female and male students equal opportunities to play sports.
  • Equipment and supplies, game and practice schedules, budgets, coaching travel allowances, facilities, publicity, support services and tutoring offered to teams are to be equivalent between male and female teams.
  • Pregnant and parenting students have the same right as any other student to continue in their regular school and in any program for which they qualify.
 
Compliance Officer:
Deputy Superintendent Melanie Stringer, Ed.D.
215 N. Crespi Ave
Exeter, CA 93221
559-592-9421