State law requires all schools to have policy prohibiting bullyi - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

State law requires all schools to have policy prohibiting bullying

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -  The second teen suicide in three months at Copper Basin High School is putting the issue of bullying back in the spotlight.

Channel 3 has learned that Tennessee law requires every school district to have a policy that prohibits bullying along with procedures for investigating reports of it.

"Bullying is not really a school issue, it's a societal norm that comes to school. But we've got a responsibility to make sure our students are safe," said Karen Glenn, Director of STARS in Hamilton County Schools.

STARS stands for Students Taking A Right Stand. One of the issues they focus on is fighting bullying.

"(Bullying is) that repeated, intentional, power imbalance, and it also thrives for someone that is unable to defend him or herself," Glenn said.

The Tennessee Department of Education encourages parents of bullied students to keep documentation of the instances to help show the extent of the problem to school officials.

Over in Polk County, Angel Harris said she complained to school officials several times about the bullying her 13-year-old daughter, Jazmine, endured.

"The principals would tell me that it was he-said-she-said, that there were no witnesses to it, and they couldn't do anything about it. They'd put them on no contact," Harris said.

Jazmine committed suicide last week. She's the second Copper Basin Student to do so. The family of Copper Basin senior Patrick Griffin, 18 said he was bullied, too.
Polk County School officials said a behaviorist started at Copper Basin this week to help teach students about fighting bullying.

If parents of bullied students aren't satisfied with the school's response, the State Department of Education suggests filing a grievance with the school district or contacting the State's Office of Safe and Supportive schools at (615) 741-3248.

Experts say bullying starts with the kids in the classroom -- and can it stop there, too.

"We have to empower our students because they really are crucial to deterring some of the behavior," Glenn said.

Some instances of bullying could also violate federal laws. If a parent feels the school district isn't adequately addressing harassment involving race, color, nationality, sex, disability or religion, they're urged to contact either the State Department of Education at (615) 741-3248 or the U.S. Department of Education's Civil Rights Office at 1-800-421-3481.

For more anti-bullying resources, visit stopbullying.gov or go to Channel 3's special section www.bullybattle.com  where local educators and officials weigh in on bullying issues. 
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