Making Hamilton County's Anti-Bullying-Hazing Policies Conform With State Underway

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The way the Hamilton County School System looks at bullying and hazing, may be changing very soon..

The action is in response to the hazing and rape investigation, involving some Ooltewah basketball players.

A group of students from Unifi-Ed, that are empowered to get involved in their education process, found several provisions to prevent bullying and hazing in state law, that are either not found or confusing in Hamilton County's bullying and hazing policy. It turns out the alleged hazing incident involving Ooltewah basketball players, may change Hamilton County's policy.

The biggest issue the Unifi-Ed students found was, no Hamilton County policy on students being able to anonymously report instances of hazing and bullying. "State law requires every school to have an option for students to anonymously report bullying and hazing," says Unifi-Ed member Nicholas Wilkins. "We want a clear procedure for how students can do that."

We took that question directly to Karen Glenn.. she administrates the bullying and hazing policy for Hamilton County Schools. She says anonymous tips can be a problem. "We can have that policy, but we want to make sure that we get the identity of the person, not so we can disclose it to the public," she says. "We want to make sure that we can determine that it's a credible incident that needs to be investigated."

Other state-mandated hazing and bullying laws, that Unifi-Ed says, the county needs to clarify, include dealing with students who retaliate against other students who complain about it. "The state law is very specific about this particular language and it's not in our policy at all," says Unifi-Ed's Elizabeth Crews.

"There is a definite statement in our code of acceptable conduct that talks about retaliatory behavior for somebody that reports," says Glenn. "We need to make sure that our code is consistent with our policy."

Glenn alsosays, the alleged incident involving Ooltewah basketball students, will produce change in Hamilton County's bullying and hazing policy, in relation to state law. "We do need to make sure that it is indeed consistent, that both our code and our policy are the same."

Elizabeth Crews with the Unifi-Ed organization says their group of students actually identified problems between county policy and state policy last month.

We're told the Hamilton County School Board's attorney will be meeting with his staff to bring the county's anti-bullying, anti-hazing policy to more comply with state law.

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