Interview with IDOE Press Secretary Adam Baker


Story by Annalise Bassett

What qualifies a bullying incident for reporting to the IDOE?

Bullying as defined by Indiana Code 20-33-8-0.2 means overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically), physical acts committed, aggression, or any other behaviors, that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment that:
– places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to the targeted student’s person or property;
– has a substantially detrimental effect on the targeted student’s physical or mental health;
– has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s academic performance; or
– has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, and privileges provided by the school.

How does the IDOE follow up with schools reporting zero incidents of bullying, and does it actually sound reasonable for big schools to report zero incidents of bullying?
Per Indiana Code 20-34-6-2, the Indiana Department of Education may conduct an audit of a school corporation to ensure accurate reporting of bullying incidents, and all discrepancies in reporting will also be posted on the IDOE website. Following the 2018 legislative session , parents can now “kickstart” the audit process if they too feel their school’s numbers are inaccurate.
I do not want to speculate on the reasonability of data as we know over the years schools have instituted conflict resolution classes to help education students on how to better handle and respond to situations as to curb bullying within their schools.

Are there any consequences for schools not reporting or falsely reporting bullying incidents, and what are they if so?
The department performs an audit and finds a school’s numbers to not be accurate, the data for that school will be updated and reflected in the annual bullying report.

How does the IDOE investigate and confirm that schools reporting zero incidents are being truthful with their reports?
Per statute, the Indiana Department of Education does not have authority to investigate rates of bullying. This is a manner that falls under the jurisdiction of local school boards.

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