Washington

Breadcrumb

Washington Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

What are the Washington laws and regulations that cover bullying?

How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations?

Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations include the following definitions of harassment, intimidation, and bullying:

“Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” means any intentionally written message or image—including those that are electronically transmitted—verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act:

  • Physically harms a student or damages the student’s property.
  • Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student’s education.
  • Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment.
  • Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.

Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 28A.300.285 (2013)

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations cover cyberbullying that occurs off-campus?

No. Washington anti-bullying laws do not cover off-campus conduct.

What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?

Washington school districts must adopt a harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policy and procedure. School district policies and procedures must contain key policy and procedural elements that are contained in the state model policy and procedure, including, but not limited to:

  • Statements prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying and statements of scope indicating where and when the policy applies;
  • Definitions of prohibited behavior;
  • Strategies to prevent harassment, intimidation, and bullying, including policy dissemination, education, staff training, and implementation of individual, classroom, school, and district-level prevention approaches;
  • Designation of a compliance officer who serves as the primary contact for harassment, intimidation, and bullying;
  • Requirements for immediate staff intervention;
  • Procedures for reporting and investigations;
  • Disciplinary consequences and corrective actions for a student who commits an act of harassment, intimidation, or bullying;
  • Supports for the targeted student; and
  • Lists of other resources and related policies and procedures.

Washington anti-bullying laws require districts to provide the superintendent of public instruction with a brief summary of policies, procedures, programs, partnerships, vendors, and instructional and training materials and must provide a link to the school district’s website for further information.

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations include protections for specific groups?

Yes. Washington anti-bullying laws prohibit harassment, intimidation, or bullying behavior that includes but is not limited to behavior shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or mental, physical, or sensory handicap or other distinguishing characteristics. Students are not required to actually possess a characteristic that is the basis for the harassment, intimidation, or bullying.

Washington schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination on a number of different personal characteristics. Find out when bullying may be a civil rights violation.

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?

Yes. Washington school districts must provide students with strategies aimed at preventing harassment, intimidation, and bullying and must seek partnerships with families, law enforcement, and other community agencies in efforts to train students.

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents?

Yes. Washington school districts must implement harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policies in conjunction with comprehensive training of students, staff, and volunteers.

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to provide safeguards or mental health supports for students involved with bullying?

Yes.  Washington school districts must implement interventions that are designed to remediate the impact on the targeted student(s) and others impacted by the violation, to change the behavior of the perpetrator, and to restore a positive school climate. Interventions must range from counseling, correcting behavior and discipline, to law enforcement referrals. Washington school districts must provide appropriate district support services and must address and remedy as appropriate the adverse impact of the harassment on the student.

Do Washington anti-bullying laws and regulations involve parents in efforts to address bullying behavior?

Yes.  Washington anti-bullying laws require districts to adopt or amend harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies through a process that includes representation of parents or guardians, school employees, volunteers, students, administrators, and community representatives.

For More Information

Visit the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction’s “Bullying and Harassment (HIB) Toolkit” webpage and/or view the Washington state model policy and state model procedure on bullying and harassment.

The key component framework used in the analysis of state laws is based on the review of legislation presented in the “Analysis of State Bullying Laws and Policies – December 2011” (U.S. Department of Education).

 

Content last updated on June 20, 2017