COVINGTON -- Newton County students are under an updated bullying policy this year.
The Newton County School System and the Newton County Board of Education passed a new school board policy, JCDAG, for bullying at the end of last year.
Dr. Ken Proctor, executive director of Elementary Curriculum at NCSS, said a new policy was required because of new state laws.
The policy, which has already been updated in school handbooks, includes a new definition of bullying and a procedure to follow when handling issues.
Bullying is defined as a willful attempt or threat to inflict injury on another person, any intentional display of force to fear or expect bodily harm or any intentional, written, verbal or physical act that is perceived as being intended to threaten, harass or intimidate that causes physical harm, has the effect to interfere with a student's education or disrupt the operation of a school or creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment, according to the policy.
The act is handled by NCSS if it occurs on school property, on school vehicles, at school bus stops or at school-related activities, as well as if it occurs by use of data or software that is accessible through a computer or a computer network of a local school system.
Each school has developed procedures to encourage school employees, students and parents to report or provide information about bullying either anonymously or not. Any school employee is encouraged to immediately report information to a school principal, and the school administration will investigate it in a timely manner to determine if bullying has occurred, the policy states.
Bullying will be punished by the Code of Conduct and can be referred for a disciplinary hearing; parents also will be notified. Students in grades six through 12 found guilty of bullying for the third time in a school year will be assigned to an alternative school, according to the policy.
As a result of the new policy, the old school board policy, JCDA, which was adopted in March 2000, was rescinded.
The policy is listed on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org.