Georgia School Boards Revise Policies in Response to State Cyberbullying Law

ccsd_wdmk_rgbOn May 6, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law a bill entitled “The End to Cyberbullying Act,” which among other things broadened the definition of bullying in Georgia to specifically include “cyberbullying.”

At its meeting on May 28, for instance, the Cobb County Board of Education adopted a couple of amendments to their existing Student Code(s) of Conduct. Specifically, the Board made it clear that its policies apply to cyberbullying that arises either on or off school grounds:

The following code provisions apply to offenses that students commit while on school property at any time, engaging in or attending a school-sponsored event, while using the school technology resources, or in the case of cyberbullying, whether or not the electronic communication originated on school property or with school equipment.

That language is buttressed by an expanded definition of what constitutes the offense of “bullying”:

Bullying behavior is also defined as cyberbullying which occur [sic] through the use of electronic communication, whether or not such electronic act originated on school property or with school equipment, if the electronic communication:

  • Is directed specifically at students or school personnel,
  • Is maliciously intended for the purpose of threatening the safety of those specified or substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school, and
  • Creates a reasonable fear of harm to the students’ or school personnel’s person or property or has a high likelihood of succeeding in that purpose.

There was one amusing change that illustrates the shifting tides of fortune in the tech world. In a section that prohibits students using personal communication devices to access social networking sites during the school day, the Board of Education deleted “My Space” [sic] and added Instagram and Snapchat to the existing examples of Facebook and Twitter.

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