Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (HIB)
Every school district shall designate one person in the district as the primary contact regarding the anti-harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) policy (see RCW 28A.600.477). That primary contact person receives copies of all formal and informal complaints, is responsible for assuring implementation of HIB policy and procedure, and is the primary contact on the policy and procedures between the school district, the Office of the Education Ombudsman, and OSPI.
Explore the following resources including background information, best practice materials for program planning, classroom implementation, staff training, and additional resources for HIB prevention and intervention for districts, schools, students, families, and others across Washington state.
- Model Policy and District HIB Compliance Officers
The State Model Policy states that the district superintendent will appoint a compliance officer as the primary district contact to receive copies of all formal and informal complaints and ensure policy implementation. In addition, the HIB Compliance Officer is required to participate in an annual Compliance Officer training session.
The Model Procedures further explain that the Compliance Officer will:
- Serve as the district's primary contact for harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
- Provide support and assistance to the principal or designee in resolving complaints.
- Receive copies of all Incident Reporting Forms, discipline Referral Forms, and letters to parents providing the outcomes of investigations.
- Be familiar with the use of the student information system. The compliance officer may use this information to identify patterns of behavior and areas of concern.
- Ensure implementation of the policy and procedure by overseeing the investigative processes, including ensuring that investigations are prompt, impartial, and thorough.
- Assess the training needs of staff and students to ensure successful implementation throughout the district, and ensure staff receive annual fall training.
- Provide the OSPI School Safety Center with notification of policy or procedure updates or changes on an annual basis.
- In cases where, despite school efforts, a targeted student experiences harassment, intimidation, or bullying that threatens the student's health and safety, the compliance officer will facilitate a meeting between district staff and the child's parents/guardians to develop a safety plan to protect the student.
Find your Compliance Officer on the HIB Compliance Officer Contact List.
RCW 28A.600.477 requires OSPI to collect and publish a brief summary of each school district’s policies, procedures, programs, partnerships, vendors, and instructional and training materials prohibiting harassment, intimidation, and bullying. You can download the file containing these district program summaries here: District HIB Program Summary (22-23).
- Legislation and Background
The 2019 Legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 5698, a Washington state law that prohibits harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB) in our schools.
RCW 28A.600.477 defines harassment, intimidation or bullying as any intentionally written message or image-including those that are electronically transmitted-verbal, or physical act, including but not limited to one shown to be motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, including gender expression or identity, mental or physical disability or other distinguishing characteristics, when an act:
- Physically harms a student or damages the student's property.
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education.
- Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment.
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school.
Schools are required to take action if students report they are being bullied. Since August 2011, each school district has been required to adopt the model Washington anti-bullying policy and procedure.
RCW 28A.600.477 states that "Harassment, intimidation, or bullying" means any intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act including, but not limited to, one shown to be motivated by any characteristic in RCW 28A.640.010 and RCW 28A.642.010, or other distinguishing characteristics, when the intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act:
- Physically harms a student or damages the student's property;
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education;
- Is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school
Bullying is defined as negative actions which are intentional, repeated, negative, show a lack of empathy, and a power imbalance.
Center for Disease Control defines bullying as: any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm. A young person can be a perpetrator, a victim, or both (also known as "bully/victim"). Bullying can occur in person and through technology. Electronic aggression or cyber-bullying is bullying that happens through email, chat rooms, instant messages, a website, text messages, or social media.
Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as: unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
- An Imbalance of Power—Kids who bully use their power-such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people
- Repetition—Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Intimidation is defined as implied or overt threats of physical violence
Harassment is defined as any malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental well-being
- Discriminatory harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Equity Book: p.32
Malicious harassment - threat to harm (often based on protected category)
Sexual harassment - unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct directed at person because of his/her sex where:
(a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's academic standing or employment; or
(b) Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for academic decisions or employment affecting such individual; or
(c) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or learning environment.
For questions about sexual, discriminatory or disability harassment, please see the list of District Equity Compliance Coordinators.
- Model Policy and Procedure
- Sample Forms
State sample forms:
- Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying - Targeted Student Safety Plan Template
- Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying - Targeted Student Safety Plan (Primary) Template
- Sample HIB Incident Reporting Form (Also available in Chinese, Khmer, Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Tagalog, Vietnamese)
Bellevue School District sample forms:
- Program Planning