Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy

Goals

Deerfield is committed to a safe learning environment, free from all forms of bullying and harassment, where community members treat one another with respect. Our Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy is central to these efforts. It is designed to promote learning, eliminate all forms of violent, harmful, and disruptive behavior and to enable students to achieve their personal and academic potential.

Deerfield recognizes that certain students may be more vulnerable to bullying, harassment, hazing or teasing based on actual or perceived characteristics -including race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socio-economic status, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance or disability – or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have these characteristics.  Trained student leaders and in-dorm residential advisors are uniquely positioned to identify and support these members of the school community.  All community members will take specific steps to foster a safe, supportive environment. Deerfield will provide students with the knowledge, skills and strategies to prevent and respond to bullying, hazing, harassment and teasing.

Deerfield will promptly investigate all reports and complaints of hazing, bullying and harassment and will attempt to end that behavior and prevent its recurrence.  These actions may include referral to a law enforcement agency.

General Statement of Policy

Application

This policy applies to all students, employees, independent contractors, school volunteers, parents and legal guardians of students, and to Deerfield visitors.  It applies to conduct that occurs on school premises or in school-related activities and school-related transportation. It does not apply to conduct that occurs exclusively between employees of Deerfield.

Disciplinary and Corrective Action

Violators of this policy will be subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action designed to end the conduct, prevent its recurrence and to protect the target from future hazing, harassment, bullying and retaliation.

Definitions

Bullying: Any written or verbal expression, physical acts or gestures directed at another person to intimidate, frighten, ridicule, humiliate, or cause harm where the conduct is not related to the person’s membership in a protected class (e.g., race, sex).  Bullying may include – but is not limited to – repeated taunting, threats of harm, verbal or physical intimidation, cyber-bullying, pushing, kicking, hitting, spitting, or taking or damaging another’s personal property. Bullying is a form of aggression that involves a power imbalance between the bully and victim, where the bully has actual or perceived physical, social, and/or psychological power over his/her/their target(s). Bullying generally involves a pattern of conduct that is directed at a victim, rather than a single isolated incident.  Bullying behavior may also constitute a crime.

Cyberbullying: Bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication.  It includes – but is not limited to – any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligence of any nature transmitted virtually through electronic means.  Cyber-bullying can occur via e-mail,  internet communication, social media app, instant message, or fax. It also includes (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identify of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions noted in the definition of bullying. Cyber-bullying also includes the electronic distribution to more than one person – or posting of material on an electronic medium accessible by one or more persons – if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions noted in the definition of bullying.

Harassment: Any abuse of an individual or group based on race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socio-economic status, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance or disability. It includes both easily identified acts of verbal, written or physical abuse and more subtle but equally damaging forms of harassment, such as graffiti, epithets, stereotypical remarks of “humor” or any behavior that contributes to the creation of a hostile environment in which to live and learn.

Sexual harassment: The offending behavior is uninvited and/or unwanted. It can be subtle and ambiguous as well as direct and overt. It is NOT social or courting behavior. Sexual harassment may include:

  • Inappropriate personal questions;
  • Sexually stereotyped or sexually charged insults, humor or verbal abuse;
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive remarks about a person’s physical attributes, clothing or behavior;
  • Leering at or ogling a person’s body;
  • Unwelcome touching;
  • Any demeaning sexual propositions;
  • Pressure exerted for sexual activity or for a relationship that takes on a sexual or romantic coloring, exceeding the limits of a healthy adult-student or student-student friendship;
  • Physical assault, or any coerced sexual relations.

Target: A person who complains about conduct covered by this Policy; the alleged victim of the conduct.

Retaliation: Any form of intimidation, reprisal, or harassment by a school community member directed against another school community member for reporting or filing a complaint, for aiding or encouraging the filing of a report or complaint, for cooperating in an investigation under this Policy, or for taking action consistent with this Policy.

Reporter: A person reporting an incident who is a third party and not the victim of the alleged policy violation

Responsibilities

To comply with this policy, all school community members must:

  • Ensure that they do not haze, bully or harass another person on school grounds or in a school-related activity;
  • Ensure that they do not retaliate against any other person for reporting or filing a complaint, for aiding or encouraging the filing of a report or complaint, or for cooperating in an investigation of hazing, bullying or harassment; and
  • Cooperate in the investigation of reports or complaints.

All School Employees, Independent Contractors and School Volunteers must also

  • Respond appropriately and intervene, if able to do so safely, when witnessing hazing, bullying or harassment on school grounds or in a school-related activity;
  • Cooperate with Deerfield’s efforts to prevent and respond effectively to hazing, bullying or harassment; and
  • Promptly report to a Designated School Official all information they know about possible hazing, bullying or harassment occurring on school grounds or in a school-related activity

Protection Against Retaliation

Deerfield will take appropriate steps to protect from retaliation any person who takes action consistent with this Policy or who reports, files a complaint of, or cooperates in an investigation of a violation of this Policy. Threats or acts of retaliationwhether person-to-person, by electronic means, or through third parties – are serious offenses that will subject the violator to disciplinary and/or other corrective action.

Reporting and Resolution Process

Designated Officials for Reporting/Designated School Officials

The Assistant Head of School for Student Life, Dean of Faculty, Dean of Students and Assistant Deans of Students are responsible for receiving reports and complaints of violations of this Policy and sharing them with the Head of School.

Reporting Procedures

  • Any Deerfield employee, independent contractor, or school volunteer who becomes aware or has a reasonable belief that hazing, bullying, harassment or retaliation has occurred on school property or in a school-related activity must promptly report the alleged incident(s) to a Designated School Official.
  • Any student or other person (who is not a school employee, independent contractor or school volunteer) who becomes aware or has a reasonable belief that hazing, bullying or harassment has occurred on school property or in a school-related activity is strongly encouraged to promptly report the incident(s) to a Designated School Official. In situations where a student or other person does not feel comfortable reporting the incident to a Designated School Official, he/she/they may report it to a trusted school employee, who must then promptly share the report with a Designated School Official.
  • Parents and/or legal guardians are notified of any report involving their children.

Investigation Process

  • After a Designated School Official receives a complaint or report, they or their designee must investigate to determine if the allegations can be substantiated and whether to resolve the complaint through Formal or Informal Proceedings, including referring it to the Community Conduct Committee.
  • The nature and duration of an investigation will depend on the circumstances, including the type, severity and frequency of the alleged conduct. The goal of an investigation is to obtain an accurate and complete account of all incidents and circumstances deemed relevant to the allegations of the complaint. No complaint is considered frivolous; on the other hand, culpability is never presumed. These procedures are intended to protect the rights of a victim and the rights of a wrongfully accused individual.
  • When a violation of the Policy has been reported by a third party and the alleged victim fails to cooperate with the investigation, or denies the incident occurred, disciplinary and corrective action may be precluded, or limited, depending on the circumstances and the availability of information from other sources.
  • Any person who makes knowingly false charges or brings a malicious complaint is subject to disciplinary and/or corrective action.
  • Allegations that appear to place the target or any other person at physical risk; (2) result in a criminal charge; (3) involve a referral to the Department of Social Services; will likely result in a Formal Proceeding.

Informal Proceedings

Although Informal Proceedings may also include disciplinary action, their primary focus is resolution through non-disciplinary corrective action.

Upon the initiation of an Informal Proceeding, the Dean of Students will, in a timely manner, meet separately with the target and the subject of the complaint. He will contact their parent(s) or guardian(s) to tell them about the nature of the complaint, the Informal Proceeding process and to explain the prohibition against retaliation.

The Dean of Students will explain that the investigation will be kept as confidential as possible but that Deerfield cannot promise absolute confidentiality and may not be able to withhold the target’s identity from the subject of the complaint, since such an assurance could interfere with school’s ability to enforce its Policy, conduct a fair and thorough investigation, and impose disciplinary and corrective action.

If appropriate, after adequate investigation, the Dean of Students will propose a resolution and discuss it with the target, or he will refer the matter to the Community Conduct Committee.

A designated faculty member will monitor the situation and will follow up with the target to determine whether there are further incidents or concerns.

If at any time after resolution the faculty member determines that the problem is not corrected, Deerfield may commence a Formal Proceeding.

File Retention: For as  long as all parties involved are associated with Deerfield Academy, the Dean of Students will maintain a confidential file with information obtained through inquiry and investigation and with the resolution, if any.

Formal Proceedings

  1. The Designated Official will separately meet in a timely manner with the target and the subject of the complaint and, if students, communicate with their parent(s) or guardian(s) to tell them about the formal process and explain the prohibition against retaliation. The Designated Official will also explain that the investigation will be kept as confidential as possible, but that Deerfield cannot promise absolute confidentiality, and may not be able to withhold the target’s identity from the subject of the complaint, since such a promise could interfere with Deerfield’s ability to enforce its Policy, conduct a fair and thorough investigation, or impose disciplinary or suggested corrective action.
  2. A Designated Official will conduct an investigation to substantiate the allegations.
  3. If the complaint is substantiated, the Designated Official will decide, based on the investigative findings, on the appropriate action. In the alternative, the Designated Official may refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee for findings and corrective action.
  4. The Dean of Students or Head of School will impose any disciplinary or corrective action based on the findings.
  5. If a complaint is substantiated, a report of the incident and its resolution will be placed in the offender’s student file.
  6. File Retention: Deerfield will maintain in a separate confidential file: the original completed Reporting/Complaint Form, investigatory interview notes and reports, findings made, the results of the investigation, including any decision for action, and other relevant investigatory materials for five years after the parties have disassociated themselves with Deerfield. The Academy will also retain files for complaints that are resolved outside the formal proceeding process.
  7. A Designated Official will monitor the situation, and determine whether there are further incidents or concerns, and whether the corrective action imposed has been effective.
  8. Any right of appeal from a disciplinary decision is governed by the Student Handbook.

Formal Proceedings

Formal proceedings typically involve a disciplinary and/or corrective action.

Upon the initiation of a Formal Proceeding, the Dean of Students will, in a timely manner, meet separately with the target and the subject of the complaint. He will contact their parent(s) or guardian(s) to tell them about the nature of the complaint, the Formal Proceeding process and to explain the prohibition against retaliation.

The Dean of Students will explain that the investigation will be kept as confidential as possible but that Deerfield cannot promise absolute confidentiality and may not be able to withhold the target’s identity from the subject of the complaint, since such an assurance could interfere with school’s ability to enforce its Policy, conduct a fair and thorough investigation, and impose disciplinary and corrective action.

If the complaint is substantiated, the Dean of Students will decide, based on his investigative findings, on the appropriate action. In Formal Proceedings, he will refer the matter to the Disciplinary Committee for findings and disciplinary or corrective recommendation. In this instance, the Disciplinary Process set forth in Section 7 shall govern the proceedings.

The Dean of Students or the Disciplinary Committee will determine whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this Policy. The determination will be based on all the facts and surrounding circumstances, including the context, nature, frequency and severity of the behavior, how long the conduct continued, where the incident(s) occurred, the number of persons involved in the wrongful conduct, the ages of and relationships between the parties, past incidents or patterns of behavior, whether the conduct adversely affected the education or school environment of the victim or other school community member and other factors that might be applicable.

Disciplinary and corrective action concerning a student may include – but is not limited to – an apology to the victim; awareness training (to help students understand the impact of their behavior); participation in empathy development program; cultural diversity, anti-harassment, anti-bullying or intergroup relations training; mandatory counseling; a written warning; classroom or dorm transfer; short-term or long-term suspension; exclusion from participation in school-sponsored functions, and/or extracurricular activities; limiting or denying access to a part or area of a school;, expulsion; and/or, referral to law enforcement.

The Dean of Students will oversee the imposition any disciplinary or corrective action.

A report of the incident and its resolution will be placed in the violator’s student file.

The Dean of Students will monitor the situation closely to ensure that the corrective action imposed has been effective.

File Retention: In a confidential file, Deerfield will maintain the original complaint statement, investigatory interview notes and reports, findings made, the results of the investigation, including any decision for action, and other relevant investigatory materials for five years after the parties have disassociated themselves with Deerfield.

Nothing in this Policy limits Deerfield from taking immediate interim disciplinary action as set forth in the school’s disciplinary code, policies or practices.

Any right of appeal from a disciplinary decision is governed by the Student Handbook.

Action Concerning Other School Community Members

Corrective action concerning any other school community member, including visitors and students’ parents and legal guardians may include – but is not limited to – a warning, counseling, employment termination, exclusion from the campus and limiting or denying the parent, guardian or visitor’s access to school premises or school-related activities or other sanctions that are warranted under the circumstances.