After the Complaint is Filed
Q. Can I keep my child home from school if I really believe my child is not safe at school or my child is refusing to attend especially while the investigation is in progress?
A. This is a very personal decision. Every case must be determined on its own circumstances and it is your decision to make. Children cannot learn if they are not in class to receive instruction and their academic achievement is of utmost importance to everyone. As a parent/guardian of a minor child, you are responsible for having your child in school or providing the appropriate and acceptable reasons for why you are keeping your child out of school. The school may record these absences as being “unexcused” and being out of school may influence your child’s academic record and could cause you to be reported for educational neglect. You should do everything in your power to work with school personnel (teachers, administrators and school support staff) to make your child feel emotionally and physically safe when he/she is at school, on the school bus and during school-sponsored activities. You should experience a comfort level with the situation.
Q. How long will an investigation take?
A. There are no mandated guidelines for how long the investigation process will take. School administrators want to find the underlying cause of all bullying allegations as quickly as possible, but this may take a reasonable amount of time. It is fair to ask and expect that this should take a matter of days and possibly a few weeks, at most, anything more than this would indicate extraordinary circumstances.
Q. What does the public list of verified cases of bullying look like?
A. This public list may only contain the number of verified acts. It could have additional information. However, because of confidentiality guidelines (FERPA), no names will be attached to the list and parents/guardians should not expect to learn exactly what or how the confirmed “bully” was dealt with or any other specific consequences or outcomes.
Q. Does this list give any indication about how safe is the school my child(ren) go to?
A. Schools that take all forms of bullying and meanness seriously may very well have lists that do have a large number of verified acts of bullying. If a school list has zero verified acts and/or school personnel tell you that there is never any bullying in your school, this may be an indication of a lack of awareness or that every effort is made to intervene early, often and not wait until something becomes a verified act of bullying to intervene.
Q. If I have exhausted my avenues of reporting and getting what I view is a satisfactory resolution to my bullying allegation, where can I turn?
A. Since the bullying law directs local school boards to create and implement bullying policies, the agency that is ultimately responsible for changing decisions or modifying policies is your local school board.The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has no legal jurisdiction in matters of bullying over school districts. The CSDE has no authority to intervene, monitor, investigate or supersede any decisions about bullying made at the local district level. You are free to contact the CSDE, talk through your issue and gain more clarity about what your legal rights are, but registering complaints through CSDE has no legal impact on specific outcomes.
If your child has an IEP or 504 Plan, you are also free to contact the Bureau of Special Education at the CSDE to find out what your rights might be under these provisions.
There are agencies throughout the state that may be able to advise and/or help you given the particular circumstances of your child’s situation. For example, if any of the bullying is of a racial or sexual nature, you may have protection under Titles IX, VI or Section 504. The agencies other than CSDE you may want to contact are:
- Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO)
- Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
- Connecticut’s Women’s Education and Legal Fund (CWEALF)
- Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW)
- Connecticut Commission on Children
- Office of the Child Advocate
- Gay Lesbian Straight Educator Network (GLSEN)
- Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG)