The Regional School Unit 13 board adopted a bullying plan April 4, said Superintendent Lew Collins.

The board adopted a state model crafted by the Maine Department of Education. Collins said it was not necessary to change the plan as it was sufficiently comprehensive.

"I was very happy", he said.

The introduction of the policy states that bullying is detrimental to the school environment and student learning, achievement and well-being. It interferes with the mission of the schools to educate their students and disrupts the operations of the schools. Bullying affects not only students who are targets but also those who participate and witness such behavior. These behaviors must be addressed to ensure student safety and an inclusive learning environment.

The plan prohibits bullying and cyberbullying, retaliation against those who report behaviors, and false accusation of bullying.

Reports of bullying will be investigated, documented, and if necessary, disciplinary actions will be taken in graduated consequences. The punishment will be imposed regarding the type of behavior and frequency, according to the policy.

Meetings with parents will be initiated and reflective activities assigned to the student, such as writing about misbehavior.

Mediation will also be a tool when there is a mutual conflict, those involved would voluntarily choose this option — it includes counseling, anger management, skill building, resolution activities and restorative conferencing.

Community service is also an option, as are more traditional consequences — in-school suspension or detention.

Administrators may also communicate with law enforcement agencies if the principal or the superintendent's designee believes the pursuit of criminal charges or a civil action under the Maine Civil Rights Act may be appropriate, according to the policy.

Parents and guardians will be notified to be given the right to appeal a decision made by school staff in taking or not taking disciplinary action.

The policy will be posted on the district website and provided to guardians, staff and students.

The superintendent will be responsible for oversight and implementation, as well as designating staff at the school level to administer the policy.

A new law was passed by the 125 Legislature and signed by Gov. Paul LePage in May 2012 to prohibit bullying in schools.

Courier Publications reporter Juliette Laaka can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 118 or via email at jlaaka@courierpublicationsllc.com.