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  4. Washington Anti Bullying Laws & Policies

Washington Anti-Bullying Laws & Policies

Components of State Anti-Bullying Laws and Regulations

Component Included
Prohibiting statement Yes
Definition Yes
Scope Yes
Protected groups Yes
District policy requirement Yes
Reporting and investigations Yes
Consequences Yes
Communication of policy Yes
Safeguards and supports Yes
Review and update of local policies Yes
Prevention education Yes
Staff training Yes
Parent engagement Yes

Which Washington laws and regulations 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 intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act including, but not limited to, one shown to be motivated by any characteristic in RCW 28A.640.010 and 28A.642.010, or other distinguishing characteristics, when the intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act:

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

“Electronic” means any communication where there is the transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable, electromagnetic, or other similar means.

Wash. Rev. Code (ARCW) § 28A.600.477 (2019)

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 or amend a policy and procedure prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying of any student that incorporates the model policy and procedure developed by the state. School district policies and procedures must contain key policy and procedural elements 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;
  • Lists of other resources and related policies and procedures; and
  • Requirements for how school districts must community the district’s harassment, intimidation, and bullying policy and procedure to parents, students, employees, and volunteers.

Washington anti-bullying laws require districts to provide the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction with a brief summary of policies, procedures, programs, partnerships, vendors, and instructional and training materials to be publicly posted, 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 sex, race, creed, religion, color, national origin, honorably discharged veteran or military status, sexual orientation including gender expression or identity, the presence of any sensory, mental, or physical disability, the use of a trained dog guide or service animal by a person with a disability, or other distinguishing characteristics. Washington school districts must also adopt policies and procedures that incorporate all elements of the state model transgender student policy and procedure.

Washington schools that receive federal funding are required by federal law to address discrimination based on certain 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 implement a range of prevention strategies including individual, classroom, school, and district-level approaches. Districts are encouraged to implement evidence-based prevention programs that are designed to increase social competency, improve school climate, and eliminate harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools.

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 adopt the state model procedure, which requires that all staff receive annual training on the school district’s policy and procedure, including staff roles and responsibilities, how to monitor common areas, and the use of the district’s Incident Reporting Form. The Office of the S uperintendent of P ublic I nstruction must post on its web site training and instructional materials on the components that must be included in any school district policy and procedure.  Washington anti-bullying laws also require the Office of the S uperintendent of P ublic I nstruction to develop a statewide training class for individuals in each district who act as the primary contact regarding the policy and procedure prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying. The training class must be offered annually.

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 provide appropriate district support services to students who have been subjected to harassment, intimidation, or bullying and must address and remedy, as appropriate, the adverse impact of the harassment on the student. Washington school districts must also adopt a plan for recognition, initial screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students. Plans may be separate or may be a component of another district plan or policy, such as the harassment, intimidation, and bullying prevention policy.

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

Yes. Washington anti-bullying laws encourage districts to adopt and update the policy and procedure prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying 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 “ Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB)” 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).

Date Last Reviewed