DEVELOPMENT AND ENFORCEMENT OF POLICY
One of the primary responsibilities of any school board is adopting policies and procedures that comply with legal requirements and which conform to the district’s current practices and procedures. School district policies are statements that set forth the purposes and prescribe, in general and specific terms, the organization and program of a school system.
Policies regarding weapons and student conduct govern student behavior on campus. Any violation of the weapons or conduct policies has to be reviewed and, if confirmed, redirected through discipline or intervention. These are the primary polices that help ensure a safe school setting. Any report of a weapon on campus or the threat of an act of violence against any student or staff member must be taken seriously. By acting quickly to assess and investigate the threat, a school district can promote an atmosphere where students and parents are comfortable making reports to help keep their school safe.
There is another policy that can play an important role in promoting a safe learning environment. Each school district in Montana has a policy prohibiting bullying, intimidation, hazing and harassment whether at school, online or via mobile device. Bullying, intimidation, hazing or harassment is any act, whether persistent or isolated, that causes harm or fear of harm to a student or interferes with a student’s right to attend school and receive education services. Any report to, observation of, or suspicion by a school employee of a violation of the bullying policy must be promptly investigated by the school district. If there has been a violation of the bullying policy by a student or staff member, the district is authorized to impose discipline against the offending party. The school district must also take corrective steps to ensure the bullying stops and the disruption is remedied.
School districts have an obligation to not only enforce the policy but to enforce it consistently. Consistent enforcement of policies ensures students are treated fairly under the circumstances. It also works to ensure that a student who engages in a violation of the policy is not permitted to continue the misconduct without consequences. Prompt action can ensure the potentially dangerous conduct does not evolve into a school safety concern. Finally, swift intervention can help reassure students who are the target of intimidation or harassment that the school will enforce its policies to protect them and that they are not isolated or without support.
Through adoption of legally supported policies and the consistent enforcement of the policies school leaders can make sure provisions in the policies are effective in preserving and promoting a safe school setting.