Just days before going back to school, the Carmel Clay School Board is scrambling to change its anti-bullying policy to comply with a new state law that protects more broadly against cyber-bullying.
Until recently, the school district was waiting for the State Department of Education to create a new model policy to follow. The problem is, the school year is starting and the DOE has not offered a timeline on the new policy.
“They are so far behind, and I feel bad for them because the timeline of this was very short for them to implement all the things that they have to implement,” said Dr. Steven Dillon, director of student services at Carmel Clay Schools.
Though most schools, including Carmel, have had bullying policies for years, the new state law brings sweeping changes when it comes to cyber-bullying. The state now allows schools to police bullying online, even if it doesn’t happen on school grounds or at school events.
“The law changes the jurisdiction of schools to cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, off school property as long as it involves two students,” Dillon said.
In the past, if cyber-bullying complaints were made to Carmel Clay Schools, administrators and school officials could only notify parents.
“Now we have an ability to apply a consequence to the (bully) if it’s appropriate,” Dillon said.
Though Carmel will adopt its new policy for the start of school, Dillon says they will continue to look for guidance from the DOE in order to keep up with a rapidly changing landscape.
“The problem I find is when you try to write up a policy that covers everything currently going on today, tomorrow there will be something new,” Dillon said. “We live in a world where today it’s Instagram, next week it will be something else.”
The Carmel Clay School Board is expected to adopt the new policy at Monday’s meeting so that it is in place by the time students return on Wednesday. Dillon says they will tweak the policy as needed, once the DOE offers its own model.
Fox 59 News contacted the DOE on Monday for comment and to find out whether there is a timeline for the policy, but officials have not yet responded.