WESTFORD -- The Nashoba Valley Technical School Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a new anti-bullying policy after receiving a proposal from Principal Denise Pigeon.
Superintendent Judith Klimkiewicz said Pigeon consulted with the district's attorney and updated the policy accordingly.
Covering every student with "differentiating characteristics," the new policy seems to leave no one out:
"Nashoba Valley Technical High School recognizes that differentiating characteristics may make certain students more vulnerable to bullying, including: race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sex, socioeconomic status, homelessness, academic status, gender identity or expression, physical appearance, pregnant or parenting status, sexual orientation including LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) students, mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability or by association with a person who has or is perceived to have one or more of these characteristics."
New to the policy language was the addition of staff members among those who could be considered bullies.
Also new is the addition of the descriptive "questioning" which homosexual rights groups use to identify those people who are either still exploring their sexuality or those who choose not to label themselves as either homosexual or heterosexual.
Bullying itself is defined as any form of "written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination" thereof with the intention of causing physical or emotional harm to a person or even that causes someone to have a "reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property."
The policy ensures that all such students have a safe environment and equal access to school services and facilities, officials said.
Consequences to those who violate the policy can include a warning or reprimand, detention, suspension, or expulsion from school.
The anti-bullying policy also includes a requirement that the school conduct an annual survey in order to identify at-risk students and assigning them counselors or staff members with whom they can register any complaints.
Should an incident of bullying become known, parents are to be notified and informed of the availability of a conflict- resolution system from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Also new to the school's policy and required by an update in state requirements, is "participation in administering surveys (developed by the DESE) at least once every four years on the climate of the school district and prevalence of bullying..."
When asked if the updates to the school's bullying policy represented a substantial change to current practice, Klimkiewicz said the only things new were the inclusion of staff members among those who could do the bullying and the category of "questioning" among the categories of students who could be the targets of bullying.
Klimkiewicz said that Nashoba Tech had no issues with bullying among its students.
Also on Tuesday, committee members:
* Learned that initial estimates that school transportation funding from the state would come in at $311,985 had been increased to $395,543, an amount that Klimkiewicz said would cover 86 percent of the district's bussing costs.
* Learned that so far, 185 of 223 students that have been accepted for Nashoba Tech for the next school year have indicated that they will attend.
* Recognized junior Alicia Gentile of Groton and senior Jacob Vandal of Shirley as students of the month. A member of the school's health assistant program, Gentile plans to spend the final two years in dual enrollment at the high school and attending classes at Middlesex Community College with the goal of receiving a diploma and technical certificate. Meanwhile, Vandal, a member of the school's carpentry program, plans to spend his senior year at Fitchburg State University studying construction management.