LMACS social workers are all trained professionals in the area of bullying prevention and social skills development. All social workers/administrators/special education teachers are trained in the IEP process which refers to ensuring that all Team meetings include a discussion regarding whether or not students with an IEP are vulnerable to being a target for bullying or being a bully.
LMACS social workers are responsible for writing all IEP goals that pertain to social skills development and bullying prevention. One-on-one counseling sessions are used to implement the goals. Some students also participate in group lunch sessions to address social skills.
The Team must consider whether or not the ALL students at LMACS are vulnerable for bullying, harassment, or teasing. If the Team determines that the student is vulnerable, a social emotional goal and objective is written. The Team decision is then reported on IEP page 8 and again in the N1. Specific language is currently available In Esped for reporting in the IEP.
Any student with an Autism disability MUST have the social emotional goal and objective written to prevent bullying.
Students with an Autistic Disability must have objectives and/or a goal in their IEP that addresses the need for services provided by a social worker to address bullying. The IEP Team determines which students have a disability that affects social skills development or which students who may be vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing because of their disability. Once this is determined, the Team will consider what should be included in the IEP to develop the student’s skills and proficiencies to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing.
The Massachusetts Bullying Prevention and Intervention Law requires school leaders to create and implement strategies to prevent bullying, and to address bullying and retaliation promptly and effectively if they occur. Sections 7 and 8 of the law have specific implications for the IEP process and for students with disabilities.
Sections 7 and 8 of the bullying intervention and prevention law refer to three groups:
Students with disabilities
- on the autism spectrum;
- when the disability affects social skills development; and
- when the disability may result in a vulnerability to bullying, harassment, and teasing.
Section 7 states: Whenever the IEP Team evaluation indicates that a student’s disability affects social skills development, or when the student’s disability makes them vulnerable to bullying, harassment, or teasing, the IEP must address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing. (G.L. c. 71B, §3, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010.)
Section 8 states: For students identified with a disability on the autism spectrum, the IEP Team must consider and specifically address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and respond to bullying, harassment, or teasing. (G.L. c. 71B, §3, as amended by Chapter 92 of the Acts of 2010.)
The skills and proficiencies that a school district may incorporate into its general curriculum, or that an IEP Team may identify in the student’s IEP, may include but are not limited to the following core categories identified by CASEL:
- Self-Awareness: accurately assessing one’s feelings, interests, values, and strengths/abilities, and maintaining a well-grounded sense of self-confidence.
- Self-Management: regulating one’s emotions to handle stress, control impulses, and persevere in overcoming obstacles; setting personal and academic goals and then monitoring one’s progress toward achieving them; and expressing emotions constructively.
- Social Awareness: taking the perspective of and empathizing with others; recognizing and appreciating individual and group similarities and differences; identifying and following societal standards of conduct; and recognizing and using family, school, and community resources.
- Relationship Skills: establishing and maintaining healthy and rewarding relationships based on cooperation; resisting inappropriate social pressure; preventing, managing, and resolving interpersonal conflict; and seeking help when needed.
- Responsible Decision-making: making decisions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, appropriate standards of conduct, respect for others, and likely consequences of various actions; applying decision-making skills to academic and social situations; and contributing to the well-being of one’s school and community.
Procedure for documenting discussions at Team meetings regarding bullying – this is in addition to the process now in place for students with Autism.
- At every Annual, Initial, or Reevaluation Team meeting, a discussion must be held to determine whether or not every student at LMCAS is a risk for being bullied or is likely to be an aggressor. This MUST be documented under “Additional Information” on IEP 8.
- If a student is found to be at risk, objectives must be added to the social/emotional goal.
Examples of narrative to include in “Additional Information”: (Available in Esped)
- The Team reviewed the IEP and all the available information to intervene and improve social behaviors and/or prevent bullying or bullying behavior. A goal was created that addresses assistance with peer relationships and bullying.
- The Team reviewed the IEP and all the available information to intervene and improve social behaviors and/or prevent bullying or bullying behavior. Student was not identified to be at risk of bullying at this time. No adjustments to the IEP were necessary.