Vermont

16 V.S.A § 11. Classifications and definitions

(30)(A) “Hazing” means any act committed by a person, whether individually or in concert with others, against a student in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization that is affiliated with an educational institution; and that is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning the student or endangering the mental or physical health of a student. Hazing also includes soliciting, directing, aiding, or otherwise participating actively or passively in these acts. Hazing may occur on or off the campus of an educational institution. Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

(i) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

(ii) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

(B) The definitions of “educational institution,” “organization,” “pledging,” and “student” shall be the same as those in section 570i of this title.

16 V.S.A § 178. Harassment and hazing prevention policies; postsecondary schools

(a) The board of trustees or other governing body of each postsecondary school operating in Vermont shall adopt and ensure enforcement of a policy establishing that harassment as defined in subdivision 11(a)(26) of this title is a form of unlawful discrimination and therefore prohibited. The board shall also require the establishment of procedures to address complaints of discriminatory harassment and to initiate educational programs designed to prevent such conduct.

(b) The board of trustees or other governing body of each postsecondary school operating in Vermont shall adopt and ensure enforcement of a policy prohibiting hazing, which shall define hazing in a manner that is at least as stringent as the definition contained in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title. The policy shall include penalties or sanctions, or both for organizations that or individuals who engage in hazing; revocation or suspension of an organization’s permission to operate or exist within the institution’s purview if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones hazing; and clear delineation of circumstances under which hazing will be reported to a law enforcement agency. A summary of the policy shall be distributed to all students at least annually. (Added 2009, No. 106 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 13, 2010; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 26.)

16 V.S.A. § 570. Harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies

(a) State policy. It is the policy of the State of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing, and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school.

(b) Prevention policies. Each school board shall develop, adopt, ensure the enforcement of, and make available in the manner described under subdivision 563(1) of this title harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies that shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the Secretary. Any school board that fails to adopt one or more of these policies shall be presumed to have adopted the most current model policy or policies published by the Secretary.

(c) Notice. Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this subchapter to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members, including reference to the consequences of misbehavior contained in the plan required by section 1161a of this title. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment, hazing, and bullying. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school. The school board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, hazing, and bullying. School boards are encouraged to foster opportunities for conversations between and among students regarding tolerance and respect.

(d) Duties of the Secretary. The Secretary shall:

(1) develop and, from time to time, update model harassment, hazing, and bullying prevention policies; and

(2) establish an Advisory Council to review and coordinate school and statewide activities relating to the prevention of and response to harassment, hazing, and bullying. The Council shall report annually in January to the State Board and the House and Senate Committees on Education. The Council shall include:

(A) the Executive Director of the Vermont Principals’ Association or designee;

(B) the Executive Director of the Vermont School Boards Association or designee;

(C) the Executive Director of the Vermont Superintendents Association or designee;

(D) the President of the Vermont-National Education Association or designee;

(E) the Executive Director of the Vermont Human Rights Commission or designee;

(F) the Executive Director of the Vermont Independent Schools Association or designee; and

(G) other members selected by the Secretary, at least one of whom shall be a current secondary student who has witnessed or experienced harassment, hazing, or bullying in the school environment.

(e) Definitions. In this subchapter:

(1) “Educational institution” and “school” mean a public school or an approved or recognized independent school as defined in section 11 of this title.

(2) “Organization,” “pledging,” and “student” have the same meanings as in section 570i of this title.

(3) “Harassment,” “hazing,” and “bullying” have the same meanings as in subdivisions 11(a)(26), (30), and (32) of this title.

(4) “School board” means the board of directors or other governing body of an educational institution when referring to an independent school. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2011, No. 156 (Adj. Sess.), § 32; 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72.)

16 V.S.A § 570b. Hazing

The hazing prevention policy required by section 570 of this title and its plan for implementation shall include:

(1) a statement that hazing, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title, is prohibited and may be subject to civil penalties pursuant to article 3 of this subchapter 5;

(2) a procedure that directs students, staff, parents, and guardians how to report violations and file complaints;

(3) a procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints;

(4) a description of the circumstances under which hazing may be reported to a law enforcement agency;

(5) appropriate penalties or sanctions or both for organizations that or individuals who engage in hazing and revocation or suspension of an organization’s permission to operate or exist within the institution’s purview if that organization knowingly permits, authorizes, or condones hazing;

(6) a description of how the school board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing, and responding to hazing; and

(7) annual designation of two or more people at each school campus to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people’s availability. (Added 2011, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. May 11, 2012; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 72, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

16 V.S.A. § 570i. Definitions

As used in this subchapter:

(1) “Educational institution” means a Vermont public or independent school, or a postsecondary school which offers or operates a program of college or professional education for credit or a degree in Vermont.

(2) “Organization” means a fraternity, sorority, athletic team, association, corporation, order, society, corps, cooperative, club, or other similar group, whose members primarily are students at an educational institution, and which is affiliated with the educational institution.

(3) “Pledging” means any action or activity related to becoming a member of an organization.

(4) “Student” means any person who:

(A) is registered in or in attendance at an educational institution;

(B) has been accepted for admission at the educational institution where the hazing incident occurs; or

(C) intends to attend an educational institution during any of its regular sessions after an official academic break. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 78, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

16 V.S.A. § 570j. Unlawful conduct

(a) For purposes of this subchapter, “hazing” means any intentional, knowing, or reckless act committed by a student, whether individually or in concert with others, against another student:

(1) in connection with pledging, being initiated into, affiliating with, holding office in, or maintaining membership in any organization which is affiliated with the educational institution;

(2) which is intended to have the effect of, or should reasonably be expected to have the effect of, endangering the mental or physical health of the student.

(b) Hazing shall not include any activity or conduct that furthers legitimate curricular, extracurricular, or military training program goals, provided that:

(1) the goals are approved by the educational institution; and

(2) the activity or conduct furthers the goals in a manner that is appropriate, contemplated by the educational institution, and normal and customary for similar programs at other educational institutions.

(c) It shall be unlawful to:

(1) engage in hazing;

(2) solicit, direct, aid, or attempt to aid, or abet another person engaged in hazing; or

(3) knowingly fail to take reasonable measures within the scope of the person’s authority to prevent hazing.

(d) It is not a defense in an action under this subchapter that the person against whom the hazing was directed consented to or acquiesced in the hazing activity. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 79, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

16 V.S.A. § 570k. Civil penalty; Judicial Bureau; waiver penalty

(a) A person who commits an unlawful act under this subchapter shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000.00.

(b) Any law enforcement officer may issue a summons and complaint for an act of hazing, which shall be heard by the Judicial Bureau pursuant to the procedures provided in 4 V.S.A. chapter 29.

(c) The Court Administrator shall appoint a panel of Judicial Bureau hearing officers to establish a waiver penalty for an act of hazing.

(d) Nothing in this section shall limit or affect the right of an educational institution to enforce its own penalties against hazing. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 80, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)

16 V.S.A. § 570l. Criminal prosecution and civil action

Nothing in this subchapter shall limit or preclude a criminal prosecution or any criminal or civil action based on any act that may constitute hazing. (Added 1999, No. 120 (Adj. Sess.), § 9; amended 2013, No. 92 (Adj. Sess.), § 81, eff. Feb. 14, 2014.)