Outline of the state of Vermont

Hazing Policy

Hazing Policy

State law requires districts to adopt hazing policies.

Code of Vermont Rules 22-000-003 2125 CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT PLAN

A Continuous Improvement Plan, as required in 16 V.S.A. §165 , shall be developed and implemented in each public school district. The plan shall be designed to improve the performance of all students enrolled in the district. If a school district comprises more than one school building, a combined plan for some or all the buildings may be developed. The plan, however, may reflect the different needs of individual schools.

The plan should be the overall planning and implementation document for the school, incorporating other planning requirements (either from the state, the federal government, local requirements, or external grant requirements) into a single planning document.

The plan shall be developed with the involvement of school board members, students, teachers, administrators, parents and other community members. The plan shall be reviewed at least annually for effectiveness toward meeting the stated goals, and shall be revised as necessary.

The plan shall include indicators provided by the Vermont Agency of Education as well as additional indicators determined locally. These indicators will identify student performance data obtained from state and local assessments and other information related to student performance which may include, but is not limited to, dropout and retention rates, attendance, course enrollment patterns and graduation rates. Indicators may also include data on school practices and leadership.

Agency support shall be differentiated in accordance with school needs, and shall work to reduce interventions for schools where student performance data indicates growth and success.

The school board shall approve the plan, which at minimum shall contain

a. goals and objectives for improved student learning ; b. educational strategies and activities specifically designed to achieve these goals, including professional learning of administrative and instructional staff; c. strategies and supports to ensure the school maintains a safe, orderly, civil and positive learning environment which is free from harassment, hazing and bullying; and d. required technical assistance from the Vermont Agency of Education as appropriate or determined by law.

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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 Standard.

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 .

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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.

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

(32) "Bullying" means any overt act or combination of acts, including an act conducted by electronic means, directed against a student by another student or group of students and that:

  • (A) is repeated over time;
  • (B) is intended to ridicule, humiliate, or intimidate the student; and
  • (C)(i) occurs during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity, or before or after the school day on a school bus or at a school-sponsored activity; or
  • (ii) does not occur during the school day on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored activity and can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student's right to access educational programs.
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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 supervisory union and school district basis. The report shall include information on attainment of Standard for student performance adopted under subdivision (9) of this section, number and types of complaints of hazing, harassment, 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, school district, and supervisory union to determine its strengths and weaknesses. To the extent consistent with State and federal privacy laws and regulations, data on hazing, harassment, or bullying incidents shall be disaggregated by incident type, including disaggregation by ethnic groups, racial groups, religious groups, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability status, and English language learner status. The Secretary shall use the information in the report to determine whether students in each school, school district, and supervisory union are provided educational opportunities substantially equal to those provided in other schools, school districts, and supervisory unions pursuant to subsection 165(b) of this title.

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Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 165. Education quality Standard; 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.

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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.

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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.

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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 Standard 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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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.

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Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 570i Definitions

As used in this subchapter: (1) "Educational institution" means a Vermont public or independent school or a postsecondary school that offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or a degree in Vermont. (2) "Organization" means a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or other similar group, whose members primarily are students at an educational institution, and that is affiliated with the educational institution. (3) "Pledging" means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization. (4) "Student" means any person who: (A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution; (B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or (C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after an official academic break.

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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.

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Vermont Statutes 16 V.S.A. § 570l Criminal prosecution and civil action

Nothing in this subchapter shall limit or preclude a criminal prosecution or any criminal or civil action based on any act that may constitute hazing.

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