Alabaster schools increase punishments for bullying

The Alabaster City School System recently increased the severity of bulling violations. (File)

The Alabaster City School System recently increased the severity of bulling violations. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Students found guilty of bullying their peers or Alabaster City Schools faculty members will face harsher punishments beginning with the upcoming school year after the system recently made revisions to its code of conduct policy.

During its June 8 meeting, the Alabaster Board of Education approved the changes, which increased the severity of possible punishments for bullying of classmates and bullying of faculty members.

ACS Student Services Coordinator Dorann Tanner said all ACS violations are broken up into four levels of severity, with level I including minor offenses and level IV including the most serious offenses.

As a result of the code of conduct revisions bullying of another student is now a class III violation and bullying of a faculty member is now a class IV violation. Both violations moved up one class from last year.

“We all want to convey a no-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment,” Tanner said during a June 11 interview, noting the policy revisions came as the result of input from school administrators and teachers.

Class III violations typically carry in-school or out-of-school suspensions, depending on the severity of the violation, Tanner said.

Class IV violations carry the school system’s most severe penalties, such as extended out-of-school suspensions, placement in alternative school, possible expulsion and possible criminal charges with the Alabaster Police Department.

“We really haven’t had an issue with (students bullying faculty members). We just wanted to be proactive,” Tanner said. “Kids need to know that they can’t bully their peers or school faculty.”

Students have multiple avenues to report bullying to the school system, such as the ACS anonymous alert system, Tanner said. Once a bullying incident is reported to ACS, the system investigates the matter and determines if it qualifies as bullying.

“We define bullying as ongoing, repeated behavior,” Tanner said. “If it’s a one-time incident where a kid calls another kid a name, it may not rise to that level.

“But if it’s something that’s happening every day, we would consider that bullying,” Tanner added. “I want every kid to go to school in a safe environment. You can’t learn if you’re being harassed or bullied every day.”