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Targeting Bullying: New Federal and State Guidance and Bullying Prevention Efforts

Bullying has serious health and educational impacts on victims, witnesses, and perpetrators. It is not a normal part of growing up. Forty-six states now have anti-bullying laws. Maryland offers broad anti-bullying protections and is addressing specific legal protections for students with disabilities.

Nationwide, students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by bullying. On August 20, 2013, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services issued clear requirements for schools to protect students with disabilities from bullying under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Bullying that causes denial of a meaningful educational benefit from special education and related services is now clearly defined as denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). When students with disabilities are bullied, school personnel must ensure that they continue to receive a FAPE in accordance with their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).  To read the requirements, please visit http://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/bullyingdcl-8-20-13.pdf

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is working to help schools better implement anti-bullying policies through an online reporting system that is reliable, accurate, and consistent. MSDE has updated its website with bullying prevention resources and a revised version of the “Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form,” available in English and Spanish: http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/studentschoolsvcs/student_services_alt/bullying/

The website’s bullying resources tab also includes new information to help spread awareness and address specific bullying concerns. 

For the last two years, MSDE facilitated a “Bullying Workgroup” to raise bullying awareness and improve community resources. The workgroup includes MSDE staff, local school system representatives, physicians, mental health providers, parents, advocates, and attorneys. Maureen van Stone, MCDD’s associate director, participated in a workgroup subcommittee that developed a technical assistance bulletin, which will be published in the near future. 

Upcoming Presentations

Ms. van Stone will be hosting an upcoming parent information session and training at a statewide conference on the topic of bullying, harassment, and intimidation of students with disabilities:

  • An information session for parents of children with disabilities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore will be held on September 24, 2013 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Holly Community, Inc. in Salisbury, Maryland. Each participant will receive a MCDD resource bag of important information and materials on the topic. Please note: Ms. van Stone delivered the same session in Easton, Maryland on August 20, 2013.  
     
  • Ms. van Stone will provide a 90-minute training session at the Maryland Association of Resources for Families and Youth (MARFY) 33rd Annual Conference in Ocean City, Maryland on October 16, 2013. The training session will review Maryland’s Model Policy, the revised reporting form, best practices, and model programs being implemented in various jurisdictions across Maryland. Each participant will receive a MCDD resource bag of important information and materials on the topic. 

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so join MSDE, the Bullying Workgroup, and the MCDD in their efforts to increase bullying awareness and promote more effective intervention, resolution, and prevention of bullying, harassment, and intimidation in Maryland schools.

For more information about MSDE’s efforts, please contact: Michael Ford, behavior specialist, in the Division of Student, Family, and School Support at MSDE, at 410-767-0031 ormiford@msde.state.md.us

For more information about the MCDD’s efforts, please contact: Maureen van Stone, associate director, at 443-923-4416 or vanstone@kennedykrieger.org

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