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Chappaqua School District Talks 'Bullying Policy'

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. –  Chappaqua Central School District Board of Education members continued to hammer out the details of the state-mandated Harassment and Discrimination Prevention Policy on Tuesday night.

While informally referred to as the “Bullying Policy” by many, school board President Alyson Kiesel prefers not to limit the district by defining it with one word.

“The law does not define it as a ‘Bully Policy,'” Kiesel said. “It does speak to bullying in multiple ways, but it’s also about other issues that are in schools. It’s not just about bullying.”

Several passages in the draft presented Tuesday caught the eye of school board member Randy Katchis who was concerned about the district over-reaching.

“Behaviors that take place at locations outside the district that materially and substantially disrupt the education process of the school environment or impinge on the rights of other students are prohibited, and may be subject to disciplinary consequences,” read one passage.

“I just think we have to be careful about where we intervene,” Katchis said. “If my two boys are on the playground and they’re harassing each other, is that a school issue?”

School board member Victoria Tipp said much of the language included in the draft is coming directly from the state. While she believes a policy covering behavior outside the school would be difficult to enforce, she understands why it is included. Tipp said threats can be made off school property from one student to another, that would make a child afraid during his or her time at school.

“The behavior is still not acceptable,” Tipp said. “It’s a high standard, so we hope that that’s not over-reaching.”

The district will continue a discussion of the policy at its next meeting on June 19 where a version will likely be adopted to meet the state’s July 1 deadline.

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