My child is being bullied at school. Does the school have to help?

4. Understand how bullies are disciplined

The principal has to give information to the parents of the bully about how their child will be disciplined. The principal does not have to tell any other parents or students how they will discipline the bully.

Progressive discipline

Discipline for bullying must be progressive discipline. This means that the discipline will generally get more serious every time the behaviour continues. The discipline can include things like:

  • the bully apologizing to the bullied student
  • reviewing behaviour expectations with the bully
  • meeting with the bully’s parents or guardians
  • teaching the bully how to manage their anger
  • suspending the bully
  • recommending that the trustees expel the bully

For example, the principal may give the bully a warning the first time. But if the bullying continues, then the student could receive a detention, then a suspension, and then a recommendation for an expulsion.

Suspension

Principals must always think about suspending a student for bullying. This is true even if the student has never bullied anyone before. If the student has already been suspended before for bullying, then the principal must suspend the student again if the bullying continues.

A principal must also suspend a bully if the bullying is based on prejudice or hate. For example, the student may have bullied someone because of their race, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, or gender.

But students from kindergarten to grade 3 cannot be suspended. The principal must use a different discipline approach for these younger students.

Students with special education needs

If a bully has special education needs, any discipline must be consistent with their Individual Education Plan (IEP). An IEP is an official document that says how the school must accommodate the student’s special needs.

The principal must think about the best way to help the student stop bullying. This depends on the student’s strengths and weaknesses.

The principal must also think about whether the student’s behaviour is caused by something that the student can’t control. For example, if the student has a disorder that limits their understanding of acceptable social behaviour, the school must help the student find appropriate supports rather than impose a suspension or recommend an expulsion.

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