SDE: Bullying and Harassment

Bullying and Harassment

"Bullying cannot be a rite of passage in our nationís schools. Instead, our schools must be safe and nurturing environments that promote learning and full participation by all students. Bullying, sexual harassment and gender stereotyping of any student, including LGBT students, have no place in our nationís schools. We must work to stop those abusive behaviors when they take place, repair their harmful effects and prevent them from happening in the future. We will use every tool in our law enforcement arsenal to ensure that all students have access to equal educational opportunity."

...Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez at the NSBA Council of School Attorneys. Boston ~ Friday, April 20, 2012

Federal and state laws, as well as local school policies exist to protect students from bullying and harassment. Each school district is required, by law, to have policies and practices in place as well as designated individuals to handle complaints. There are two major legislative acts, and a key federal law that are relevant:



Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 -
  • "No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal assistance."
  • Directory of CT Title IX/Equity Coordinators
On October 26, 2010 the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights issued a very significant "Dear Colleague" letter. This letter emphasized "that some student misconduct that falls under a schoolís anti-bullying policy also may trigger responsibilities under one or more of the federal antidiscrimination laws enforced by the Departmentís Office for Civil Rights (OCR)... by limiting its response to a specific application of its anti-bullying disciplinary policy, a school may fail to properly consider whether the student misconduct also results in discriminatory harassment."

The letter responds to recent, high-profile instances of bullying and harassment that led to student suicides and OCRís year-long review of federal antidiscrimination statutes, regulations, and case law. The letter warns that school districts that fail to appropriately identify, thwart, and remedy bullying and harassment risk violating federal civil rights laws and losing federal funds. The full text of this letter, along with a fact sheet can be found here.

The Letter clarifies that bullying is form of harassment when based on protected characteristic. Protections exist under Title IX and anti-gay harassment is often covered by Title IX

For Complaints regarding Bullying, please contact:
For Complaints regarding Bullying, based on protected classes (such as race, sex, religion and sexual orientation)  and other acts of bias and discrimination, please contact:
Also see Bullying Website 
Jo Ann Freiberg, Ph.D.
Education Consultant
School Climate, Bullying and Character Education
Office of Student Supports and Organizational Effectiveness
Bureau of Health/Nutrition, Family Services and Adult Education
Connecticut State Department of Education
25 Industrial Park Road
Middletown, CT 06457 
Phone: (860) 807-2119
Fax: (860) 807-2127
William A. Howe, Ed.D.
State Title IX Coordinator/Civil Rights Compliance
CT State Department of Education
Academic Office
165 Capitol Avenue, Room 222
Hartford, CT 06106
Phone: (860) 713-6752 
Fax: (860) 713-7023 

Formal complaints based on protected classes should be directed to:

The Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO)
25 Sigourney Street
Hartford, Connecticut  06106
Telephone: 860-541-3400
Toll Free (CT):
Web site:

Online Complaint Form

Boston Office
Office for Civil Rights

US Department of Education
8th Floor
5 Post Office Square
Boston, MA 02109-3921
Telephone: 617-289-0111
FAX: 617-289-0150; TDD: 877-521-2172

Filing complaints electronically:

Content Last Modified on 12/2/2014 9:32:45 AM