By Andrew Cluley
Recent studies show 25 percent of teens have been victims of cyberbullying via their cellphones or on the Internet. Almost 95 percent of teens have witnessed cyberbullying incidents on social media. To help address the threat of cyberbullying in Ann Arbor Public Schools the Board of Education is expected to approve amendments to the district’s anti-bullying policy this week.
The addition to the policy prohibits cyberbullying at school, on a school bus, or at school related events. Off-campus activity that could likely lead to a disruption to the learning environment for one or more students is also banned under the changes.
The policy covers any electronic communications that’s intended to harm one or more pupils, or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm a student.
School Board President Deb Mexicotte says fighting cyberbullying can be a real challenge but this policy should work. “It was brought up when we started talking about this particular policy that it’s very hard to police the entire internet, all social media, and every other new app or device that might actually cause someone to experience a bullying episode,” Mexicotte says. “But when that bullying enters the school environment as a disruption, that’s when we are able to take actions, up to and including police involvement.”
The policy kicks in and the district will take action the moment electronic communication disrupts one or more students’ learning environment and it’s reported to a building principal.
If the policy is approved the district will adjust the Ann Arbor Public Schools Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to include cyberbullying in the anti-bullying section.
The School Board is also expected to approve a new Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, Procedures and Guidelines Policy. The new policy came directly from the state and must be approved by the end of the month.
The meeting takes place Wednesday at 7 PM at Huron High School.