With kids using cell phones and internet sites more and more, there have been many cases in recent months of online threats and cyberbullying. Earlier this week, a student was suspended from Lincoln Junior High School in Taft, accused of making cyber threats against other students over the weekend. There is also speculation of cyberbullying being a factor in the shooting at Taft High School.
On Tuesday, the Bakersfield City School District will decide whether or not to enact a change to the policy on freedom of speech and expression. The change would address the issue of cyberbullying and other forms of mistreatment through the use of technology.
Bakersfield City School District's Instructional Support Services Division Director, Randall Ranes said, "It doesn't happen a lot, it's not documented in our records, but it's of a concern to us because we know the potential is there."
He said the policy revision would give schools the authority to take disciplinary action if it's determined there's a threat to safety or disruption to the school setting.
"It changes it from just having the authority to take disciplinary actions to and from school, on the school campus, at a school-related activity, to adding the possibility that there might be electronic bullying, or cyberbullying that could occur," said Ranes.
The board will vote on including two aspects in the policy, outlining off-campus conduct that poses a threat to safety and providing a description of the minimum standards to authorize discipline.
Ranes said the change will give the district tools to discipline students - but also protect their rights.
"Trying to separate between what's protected speech, that might be written or in an email or posted on a web page, what might be protected versus what's not going to be protected, threats, libel, slander," said Ranes.
Ranes said the policy hasn't been updated in at least a few years.
The board will take up the issue on tuesday. if the policy is adopted, it will go into place next week.