How policy can support a positive school climate
Policies addressing bullying, discrimination, harassment and hate violence must be posted to district website
little girl comforts her seat mate on the bus
In addition to supporting the academic achievement of students, school boards should prioritize creating a climate on district campuses that supports the physical and social-emotional well-being of students. The American Psychological Association has found that not only are these attributes of student wellness important in and of themselves, but a positive school climate correlates with better attendance and study habits, motivation and commitment to succeed academically, engagement in more cooperative learning, and achievement of higher grades, test scores and subject mastery. A significant impediment to a positive school climate is bullying, discrimination, harassment and hate violence. Bullying has a far-reaching impact on victims, perpetrators and observers, as well as the overall school climate.

To counteract these negative forces, boards should leverage policy to prohibit bullying, discrimination, harassment and hate violence. Policies on these topics should be regularly updated and communicated to students, parents and guardians. Posting these policies and related materials on the district’s website is required by law.

Education Code 234.6 requires districts, county offices of education and charter schools to post on their websites policy and related information regarding the prevention of bullying and harassment. In expressing the need for this legislation, Assemblymember James Ramos (D-Highland) stated in a Senate hearing on the bill that, “Under current law, local educational agencies, schools and the [California] Department of Education produce a range of resources on bullying and harassment prevention. However, these resources are currently scattered between different agencies, websites and requirements to inform parents and students … Posting this resource in a conspicuous and easily accessible place on the local educational agencies’ websites will ensure that not only are the resources effectively compiled, but also are accessible.”

LEAs should review their policies regarding bullying and harassment and confirm compliance with the posting requirements of Education Code 234.6. In doing so, boards are encouraged to review the following CSBA sample board policies and administrative regulations:

  • 0410 – Nondiscrimination in District Programs and Activities
  • 5131.2 – Bullying
  • 5137 – Positive School Climate
  • 5141.52 – Suicide Prevention
  • 5145.3 – Nondiscrimination/Harassment
  • 5145.7 – Sexual Harassment
  • 5145.71 – Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures
  • 5145.9 – Hate-Motivated Behavior
Specifically, Education Code 234.6 requires LEAs to ensure that the following information is readily accessible in a prominent location on their website:

  1. Policy regarding student suicide prevention, including reference to the age appropriateness of the policy for grades one to six
  2. Policy on sexual harassment as it pertains to students
  3. Policy on the prohibition of discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying
  4. Policy, if any, on preventing and responding to hate violence
  5. The definition of discrimination and harassment based on sex as described in Education Code 230, including the rights set forth in Education Code 221.8
  6. Title IX information pursuant to Education Code 221.61
  7. Anti-cyberbullying procedures
  8. Information about cyberbullying, including references to specified possible forums for cyberbullying
  9. A link to statewide resources including community-based organizations compiled by the California Department of Education
  10. Any additional information the LEA deems important for preventing bullying and harassment

While it might seem that students, parents and guardians are already well informed about resources that help prevent bullying and harassment, the California Association of Student Councils states, “Many students often do not know where to turn when they witness, or experience, harassment or bullying, and therefore posting clear information about programs they can turn to could increase reporting of these instances, thus creating a more supportive and inclusive school environment for students of all identities.”

Boards can learn more about posting requirements by reviewing CSBA’s Exhibit 1113 – District and School Web Sites. The exhibit lists these and other materials that the law explicitly requires to be posted on district or school websites, with reference to the board policy, administrative regulation or board bylaw that further describes the requirement.