Vermont - Hazing Policy: Policy or Plan Requirements

Area: 
Policy Or Plan Requirements
Policy Type: 
regulation; statute
Summary: 

State law requires districts to adopt hazing policies.

Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 11. Classifications and definitions

(30) (A) "Hazing" means any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization that is affiliated with an educational institution; and that is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of a student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in these acts. Hazing may occur on or off the campus of an educational institution. Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

  • (i) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and
  • (ii) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 180. Student rights-Freedom of expression

(e) This section shall not be construed to authorize or protect content of school-sponsored media that:

  • (1) is libelous or slanderous;

  • (2) constitutes an unwarranted invasion of privacy;

  • (3) may be defined as obscene, gratuitously profane, threatening, or intimidating;

  • (4) may be defined as harassment, hazing, or bullying under section 11 of this title;

  • (5) violates federal or State law; or

  • (6) creates the imminent danger of materially or substantially disrupting the ability of the school to perform its educational mission.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A § 570j. Unlawful conduct

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, "hazing" means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with others, against another student:

  • (1) in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with the educational institution; and

  • (2) which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, endangering the mental or physical health of the student.

(b) Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

  • (1) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

  • (2) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

(c) It shall be unlawful to:

  • (1) engage in hazing;

  • (2) solicit, direct, aid, or attempt to aid, or abet another person engaged in hazing; or

  • (3) knowingly fail to take reasonable measures within the scope of the person's authority to prevent hazing.

(d) It is not a defense in an action under this subchapter that the person against whom the hazing was directed consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity.


Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-003 Section 2122.1. School Facilities and the Learning Environment.

Each school shall maintain a safe, orderly, civil, flexible and positive learning environment, which is free from hazing, harassment and bullying and based on sound instructional and classroom management practices and clear discipline and attendance policies that are consistently and effectively enforced.

The design and operation of the school facilities shall be in full compliance with all state and federal fire, health, and safety, chemical and architectural standards.

Each school's comprehensive plan for responding to student misbehavior, as required by 16 V.S.A. §1161a(a), shall address student behavior, language, classroom attendance, clothing and treatment of property, as well as consequences for violations of policy, and shall be clear and consistently enforced.

Each school shall observe due process requirements as set forth in Rule 4300 et seq .


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 1161a. Discipline

(a) Each public and each approved independent school shall adopt and implement a comprehensive plan for responding to student misbehavior. To the extent appropriate, the plan shall promote the positive development of youth. The plan shall include:

  • (1) The school's approach to classroom management and response to disruptive behavior, including the use of alternative educational settings.

  • (2) The manner in which the school will provide information and training to students in methods of conflict resolution, peer mediation, and anger management.

  • (3) Procedures for informing parents of the school's discipline policies, for notifying parents of student misconduct, and for working with parents to improve student behavior.

  • (4) The school's response to significant disruptions, such as threats or use of bombs or weapons.

  • (5) A description of how the school will ensure that all staff and contractors who routinely have unsupervised contact with students periodically receive training on the maintenance of a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment. The training shall be appropriate to the role of the staff member being trained and shall teach classroom and behavior management, enforcement of the school's discipline policies, and positive youth development models.

  • (6) A description of behaviors on and off school grounds that constitute misconduct, including harassment, bullying, and hazing, particularly those behaviors that may be grounds for expulsion. The plan shall include a description of misconduct as listed in subdivisions 11(a)(26)(A)-(C) and (32) of this title that, although serious, does not rise to the level of harassment or bullying as those terms are defined therein.

  • (7) Standard due process procedures for suspension and expulsion of a student.

(b) For the purpose of this chapter, corporal punishment means the intentional infliction of physical pain upon the body of a pupil as a disciplinary measure.

(c) No person employed by or agent of a public or approved independent school shall inflict or cause to be inflicted corporal punishment upon a student attending the school or the institution. However, this section does not prohibit a person from using reasonable and necessary force:

  • (1) to quell a disturbance;

  • (2) to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects upon the person of or within the control of a student;

  • (3) for the purpose of self defense; or

  • (4) for the protection of persons or property.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 570b. Hazing

The hazing prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:

(1) a statement that hazing, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title, is prohibited and may be subject to civil penalties pursuant to article 3 of this subchapter 5;

(2) a procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints;

(3) a procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints;

(4) a description of the circumstances under which hazing may be reported to a law enforcement agency;

(5) appropriate penalties or sanctions or both for organizations that or individuals who engage in hazing and revocation or suspension of an organization's permission to operate or exist within the institution's purview if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones hazing;

(6) a description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to hazing; and

(7) annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people's availability.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 164. State Board; general powers and duties

(17) Report annually on the condition of education statewide and on a school-by-school basis. The report shall include information on attainment of standards for student performance adopted under subdivision (9) of this section, number and types of complaints of harassment, hazing, or bullying made pursuant to chapter 9, subchapter 5 of this title and responses to the complaints, financial resources and expenditures, and community social indicators. The report shall be organized and presented in a way that is easily understandable by the general public and that enables each school to determine its strengths and weaknesses. The Secretary shall use the information in the report to determine whether students in each school are provided educational opportunities substantially equal to those provided in other schools pursuant to subsection 165(b) of this title.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 570k. Civil penalty; Judicial Bureau; waiver penalty

(a) A person who commits an unlawful act under this subchapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $ 5,000.00.

(b) Any law enforcement officer may issue a summons and complaint for an act of hazing, which shall be heard by the Judicial Bureau pursuant to the procedures provided in 4 V.S.A. chapter 29.

(c) The Court Administrator shall appoint a panel of Judicial Bureau hearing officers to establish a waiver penalty for an act of hazing.

(d) Nothing in this section shall limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 165. Education quality standards; equal educational opportunities; independent school

(1) The school, through a process including parents, teachers, students, and community members, develops, implements, and annually updates a continuous improvement plan to improve student performance within the school. The plan shall include goals and objectives for improved student learning and educational strategies and activities to achieve its goals. The plan shall also address the effectiveness of efforts made since the previous continuous improvement plan to ensure the school maintains a safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environment that is free from harassment, hazing, and bullying. The school shall assess student performance under the plan using a method or methods of assessment developed under subdivision 164(9) of this title.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 166. Approved and recognized independent schools

(e)  Harassment, hazing, and bullying policies. -- The board of trustees of an approved or recognized independent school operating in Vermont shall adopt harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies, establish procedures for dealing with harassment, hazing, and bullying of students, and provide notice of these. The provisions of chapter 9, subchapter 5 of this title for public schools shall apply to this subsection, except that the board shall follow its own procedures for adopting policy.


Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 570. Harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies

(a)  State policy. -- It is the policy of the State of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing, and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school.

(b)  Prevention policies. -- Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies that shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the Secretary. Any school board that fails to adopt one or more of these policies shall be presumed to have adopted the most current model policy or policies published by the Secretary.

(c)  Notice. -- Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this subchapter to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members, including reference to the consequences of misbehavior contained in the plan required by section 1161a of this title. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment, hazing, and bullying. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school. The school board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, hazing, and bullying. School boards are encouraged to foster opportunities for conversations between and among students regarding tolerance and respect.

(d)  Duties of the Secretary. -- The Secretary shall:

  • (1) develop and, from time to time, update model harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies; and

  • (2) establish an Advisory Council to review and coordinate school and statewide activities relating to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing, and bullying. The Council shall report annually in January to the State Board and the House and Senate Committees on Education. The Council shall include:

    • (A) the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals' Association or designee;

    • (B) the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;

    • (C) the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;

    • (D) the President of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee;

    • (E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee;

    • (F) the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and

    • (G) other members selected by the Secretary, at least one of whom shall be a current secondary student who has witnessed or experienced harassment, hazing, or bullying in the school environment.

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