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.
(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; and
(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.
(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 chapter 29 of Title 4.
(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.
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
(a) The board of trustees or other governing body of each postsecondary school, as defined in subdivision 140a(1) of this title, 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, as defined in subdivision 140a(1) of this title, 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.)
(a) 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) 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 and hazing prevention policies which shall be at least as stringent as model policies developed by the commissioner. In this section, the definitions of organization, pledging, and student shall be the same as those in subdivisions 140a(2), (3), and (4) of this title. In this section, educational institution means public schools and independent schools as defined in section 11 of this title.
(1) The harassment prevention policy shall include:
(A) A statement prohibiting harassment of a student.
(B) The definition of harassment pursuant to subdivision 11(a)(26) of this title.
(C) Consequences and appropriate remedial action for staff or students who commit harassment. At all stages of the investigation and determination process, school officials are encouraged to make available to complainants alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, for resolving complaints.
(D) A procedure that directs students and staff how to report violations and file complaints.
(E) A procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints. The procedure shall provide that, unless special circumstances are present and documented by the school officials, an investigation is initiated no later than one school day from the filing of a complaint and the investigation and determination by school officials are concluded no later than five school days from the filing of the complaint with a person designated to receive complaints under subdivision (c)(1) of this section. All internal reviews of the school’s initial determination, including the issuance of a final decision, shall, unless special circumstances are present and documented by the school officials, be completed within 30 days after the review is requested.
(F) A description of how the board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing and responding to harassment.
(2) The hazing prevention policy shall include:
(A) A statement that hazing, as defined in subdivision 11(a)(30) of this title, is prohibited.
(B) A procedure that directs students and staff how to report violations and file complaints.
(C) A procedure for investigating reports of violations and complaints.
(D) Circumstances under which hazing may be reported to a law enforcement agency.
(E) Appropriate penalties or sanctions, or both, for organizations which 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.
(F) A description of how the board will ensure that teachers and other staff members receive training in preventing, recognizing and responding to hazing.
(c) Each school district shall establish rules setting forth procedures for dealing with harassment and hazing of students which include:
(1) Annual designation of two or more people within the institution to receive complaints and a procedure for publicizing those people’s availability.
(2) A procedure for publicizing the availability of the Vermont human rights commission and the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and other appropriate state and federal agencies to receive complaints of harassment.
(3) A statement that acts of retaliation for reporting of harassment or for cooperating in an investigation of harassment is unlawful pursuant to subdivision 4503(a)(5) of Title 9.
(d) Annually, prior to the commencement of curricular and cocurricular activities, the school board shall provide notice of the policy and procedures developed under this section to students, custodial parents or guardians of students, and staff members. Notice to students shall be in age-appropriate language and should include examples of harassment and hazing. At a minimum, this notice shall appear in any publication of the school district that sets forth the comprehensive rules, procedures and standards of conduct for the school. The board shall use its discretion in developing and initiating age-appropriate programs to effectively inform students about the substance of the policy and procedures in order to help prevent harassment, and hazing.
(e) The commissioner shall develop and, from time to time, update model harassment and hazing prevention policies.