Cyberbullying Policy

Franklin Center for Innovation, Inc. (FCFI)

Cyberbullying Policy

INTRODUCTION

Cyberbullying by an FCFI member directed toward another FCFI member or staff member is conduct that disrupts both a member’s ability to learn, use of the Facilities and FCFI’s ability to educate its members in a safe environment. FCFI prohibits acts of cyberbullying by members through the use of any FCFI owned, operated, and supervised technologies. FCFI Management or their designees may report allegations of cyberbullying to law enforcement authorities.

This policy applies to members, parents, employees and third-parties (such as vendors, independent contractors, and members of the general public) and covers incidents that result in the cyberbullying of FCFI members regardless of whether the incidents themselves occur on FCFI property.

This policy also prohibits (a) retaliation against anyone who in good faith reports behavior prohibited by this policy; and (b) intimidation of any witness or party who participates in an investigation.

DEFINITIONS

“Cyberbullying” - Use of electronic information and communication devices, including but not limited to, E-mail, instant messaging, text messaging, mobile telephones, blogs, chat rooms, social media, and/or websites, that

  1. Deliberately threatens, harasses, and/or intimidates an individual or group of individuals;
  2. Places an individual in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself or damage to his/her property; or
  3. Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of FCFI or any of its subsidiaries.

Cyberbullying includes any electronically transmission that is reasonably perceived as being motivated either by any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression; a mental, physical, or sensory disability or impairment; or by any other distinguishing characteristic.

“FCFI owned, operated, or supervised technologies” - Any computer, networking system, electronic equipment, or any other equipment or device owned, leased, operated, or under the control or supervision of FCFI and/or its staff.

PROCEDURES

General

Any member or FCFI staff member who believes he/she has or is being subjected to cyberbullying, or any person who has reason to believe a member or FCFI staff member is being cyberbullied shall immediately make a report to the Executive Director or other FCFI Staff member. FCFI’s Executive Director or his/her designee is FCFI’s Compliance Officer for purposes of this cyberbullying policy.

All FCFI employees are required to report alleged violations of this policy to the Executive Director or Executive Director’s designee. The complaining party or reporting employee is encouraged to use the report form available from the Executive Director, but oral complaints shall be acceptable.

An FCFI employee who suspects or is notified that a member has been subject to conduct that constitutes a violation of this policy shall immediately report the incident to the Executive Director. Within two (2) working days, the Executive Director (or Compliance Officer, as the case may be) will follow up with the member reported to be the target of such conduct. All other members of the FCFI community, including members, parents, volunteers, and visitors are encouraged to report any act that may be a violation of this policy. Reports may be made anonymously, but formal disciplinary action may not be based solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

All complaints of cyberbullying shall be investigated promptly, and corrective action shall be taken when allegations are substantiated. The Executive Director or his/her designee shall investigate all reports of such conduct. If the investigation indicates cyberbullying was not committed, the Executive Director or his/her designee will inform the affected parties of the investigation results. Confidentiality of all parties shall be maintained to the extent possible, consistent with FCFI’s legal and investigative obligations.

In the event the investigation indicates cyberbullying was committed by an FCFI member on FCFI grounds and/or using FCFI technologies, the member will be subjected to appropriate discipline up to and including expulsion.

In the event the investigation indicates cyberbullying was committed by an FCFI employee on FCFI grounds and/or using FCFI technologies, the employee will be subjected to appropriate discipline up to and including termination.

If the investigation indicates cyberbullying was committed by an FCFI member, an FCFI employee, a parent, or a third-party using non-FCFI technologies away from FCFI grounds, the Executive Director or his/her designee may report the investigation results to local law enforcement. This authority shall be exercised only when it is reasonably necessary for the member target’s physical or emotional safety, security, and well-being or for the safety, security, and well-being of other members, staff, or FCFI property.

Any investigation regarding an allegation of cyberbullying will provide all parties the appropriate due process rights, including the right to appeal the determination of the Executive Director or his/her designee.

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

Step 1 – Reporting

The Executive Director and/or the Executive Director’s designee also are/is responsible for conducting a prompt, thorough, and complete investigation of each alleged incident. The Executive Director or his/her designee shall

  1. Inform the complaining party of the right to file a complaint and the complaint procedure.
  2. Inform the complaining party if s/he is a member that s/he may be accompanied by a parent/guardian during all steps of the complaint procedure.
  3. Notify the complaining party and the accused of the progress at appropriate stages of the procedure.
  4. Refer the complaining party to the Compliance Officer if the Executive Director is the subject of the complaint.

If the Executive Director is the subject of a complaint, the complaining party or the reporting employee shall report the incident directly to the Compliance Officer.

In cases in which the alleged victim may be in danger or his/her ability to participate fully in the educational process may be seriously impaired, the Compliance Officer or his/her designee may take interim action (consistent with state and federal law) to keep the alleged victim from his/her alleged cyberbully. Such action may include parent contact, removal from class or program, loss of privileges, or suspension of membership for the alleged cyberbully.

Step 2 – Investigation

The investigation may consist of individual interviews with the complaining party, the accused, and others with knowledge relative to the incident. The investigator may also evaluate any other information and materials relevant to the investigation. Both the alleged victim and the alleged cyberbully will be given the opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence. The investigator will use the preponderance of evidence standard to determine whether this policy has been violated. That is, a violation will be found if the complainant or victim presents evidence establishing it is more likely than not that the prohibited conduct occurred. The obligation to conduct this investigation shall not be negated by the fact that a criminal investigation of the incident is pending or has been concluded.

The investigation is to be completed within three (3) days after a report or complaint is made. Any reasonable delays (e.g., the unavailability of witnesses or parties due to illness) will be noted in the investigative file, and the investigation will be completed as soon as possible following the delay.

Step 3 - Investigative Report

The Executive Director (or other person conducting the investigation) shall prepare a written report within fifteen (15) working days, unless additional time to complete the investigation is required. Any reason for additional time in which to complete the report will be noted in the investigative file. The report shall include a summary of the investigation, a determination of whether the complaint has been substantiated as factual, whether it is a violation of this policy, and a recommended disposition of the complaint.

Findings of the investigation shall be provided in writing within five (5) working days to the complaining party, the accused and the Compliance Officer.

Step 4 – Action

If the investigation results in a finding that the complaint is factual and constitutes a violation of this policy, FCFI shall take prompt, corrective action to ensure that such conduct ceases and will not recur. Victims of substantiated cyberbullying claims will be offered counseling and other resources consistent with the circumstances of their charges.

Some acts of cyberbullying may be isolated incidents requiring FCFI to respond appropriately to the individual committing the acts. Other acts may be so serious or part of a larger pattern of cyberbullying that require a response either at the classroom, FCFI building, or by law enforcement officials.

Disciplinary action shall be consistent with the Member Code of Conduct and Safety Guidelines, Board policies, FCFI procedures, applicable employment agreements, and applicable law. Consequences and appropriate remedial actions for members who commit acts of cyberbullying range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension or expulsion. In addition, cyberbullying using FCFI technology violates the Computer Lab Rules and subjects the member to discipline as set forth in the policy.

Employees will be disciplined consistent with the findings and such discipline may include termination. Independent contractors found to be in violation of this policy may have their agreements terminated or may be debarred from transacting business with FCFI. Other third-party actors may be prohibited from participating in FCFI activities.

Reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of cyberbullying is prohibited. The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation shall be determined by the administrator after consideration of the nature, severity, and circumstances of the reprisal or retaliation.

False accusations of cyberbullying are prohibited. The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a person found to have falsely accused another of cyberbullying may range from positive behavioral interventions up to and including suspension from the program or class they are enrolled in or loss of their membership. Consequences and appropriate remedial action for an FCFI employee found to have falsely accused another of an act of cyberbullying shall be disciplined in accordance with state and federal law.

Prevention and intervention techniques to prevent cyberbullying and to support and protect victims shall include appropriate strategies and activities as determined by the Executive Director or his/her designee.

Appeal Procedure

  1. If the complainant is not satisfied with a finding of no violation of the policy or with the corrective action recommended in the investigative report, s/he may submit a written appeal to the Compliance Officer within fifteen (15) working days.
  2. The Compliance Officer shall review the investigation and the investigative report and may also conduct an additional reasonable investigation.
  3. The Compliance Officer shall prepare a written response to the appeal within fifteen (15) days of receipt. Copies of the response shall be provided to the complainant, the accused and the Executive Director (or other person) who conducted the initial investigation.

Publication

This Policy will be reviewed and distributed by the Compliance Officer or his/her designees to all FCFI staff, members, and parent(s) or legal guardian(s). The policy will also be published on FCFI’s website.