Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter II-C. Youth Bullying Prevention.


§ 2–1535.01. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) “Agency” means a District government entity that provides services, activities, or privileges to youth, including the:

(A) Office of the State Superintendent of Education;

(B) Department of Parks and Recreation;

(C) District of Columbia Public Library; and

(D) University of the District of Columbia.

(2)(A) “Bullying” means any severe, pervasive, or persistent act or conduct, whether physical, electronic, or verbal that:

(i) May be based on a youth’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, personal appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, intellectual ability, familial status, family responsibilities, matriculation, political affiliation, genetic information, disability, source of income, status as a victim of an intrafamily offense, place of residence or business, or any other distinguishing characteristic, or on a youth’s association with a person, or group with any person, with one or more of the actual or perceived foregoing characteristics; and

(ii) Can be reasonably predicted to:

(I) Place the youth in reasonable fear of physical harm to his or her person or property;

(II) Cause a substantial detrimental effect on the youth’s physical or mental health;

(III) Substantially interfere with the youth’s academic performance or attendance; or

(IV) Substantially interfere with the youth’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by an agency, educational institution, or grantee.

(B) For the purposes of this paragraph, the terms “familial status,” “family responsibilities,” “gender identity or expression,” “genetic information,” “intrafamily offense,” “marital status,” “matriculation,” “personal appearance,” “political affiliation,” “sexual orientation,” and “source of income” shall have the same meaning as provided in § 2-1401.02.

(3) “Educational institution” means any local education agency that receives funds from the District of Columbia.

(4) “Electronic communication” means a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including a telephone, cellular phone, computer, tablet, pager, or video or audio recording.

(5) “Employee” means an individual who performs a function for the District government for an agency, educational institution, or grantee who receives compensation for the performance of that function.

(6) “Grantee” means an entity or a contractor of an entity that, on behalf of the District government or through District funding, provides services, activities, or privileges to youth.

(7) “Human Rights Act” means Unit A of Chapter 14 [§ 2-1401.01 et seq.].

(8) “Party” means a person accused of bullying, a target of bullying, or a parent or guardian of either a person accused of bullying or a target of bullying.

(9) “Youth,” depending on the context, means:

(A) An individual of 21 years of age or less who is enrolled in an educational institution or who accesses the services or programs provided by an agency or grantee, or an individual of 22 years of age or less who is receiving special education services from an educational institution; or

(B) Individuals as described in subparagraph (A) of this paragraph considered as a group.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 2, 59 DCR 7820.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1535.03 and § 4-754.21.


§ 2–1535.02. Bullying prevention task force.

(a) Within 90 days of September 14, 2012, the Mayor shall establish a bullying prevention task force.

(b)(1) The task force shall consist of representatives from a diversity of the educational institutions and agencies that will be affected by this subchapter, as well as community representatives, including:

(A) Teachers;

(B) Administrators from educational institutions and agencies;

(C) School mental health professionals;

(D) Parents, and legal guardians;

(E) Youth;

(F) Direct service providers; and

(G) Advocates.

(2) In constituting this task force, the Mayor shall consider geographic and socioeconomic diversity as well as other forms of diversity.

(c) The task force shall:

(1) Provide guidance to the Mayor on the implementation of this subchapter;

(2) Within 180 days of September 14, 2012, publicize a model policy, which shall contain each of the components required in § 2-1535.03(b);

(3) Assist educational institutions and agencies with developing policies in accordance with § 2-1535.03;

(4) Compile, and make available to each agency, educational institution, and grantee, a list of free or low-cost methods for establishing the bullying prevention programs authorized in § 2-1535.06;

(5) Within 180 days of receipt of the bullying prevention policies submitted pursuant to § 2-1535.03(c), review each adopted policy for compliance with the requirements of § 2-1535.03(b);

(5A) Appropriately engage parents and legal guardians of youth served by each agency in bullying prevention efforts;

(5B) Provide to each agency and parents or legal guardians a referral list of community-based programs or similar resources that mitigate bullying and address identified behavioral health needs as necessary;

(5C) Provide consultation and review evidence-based school climate data to ensure full implementation of the law; and

(6) Promulgate guidelines to assist the Mayor in evaluating the effectiveness of the bullying prevention policies that have been established.

(d) The task force shall disband by August 2018; provided, that at the discretion of the Mayor, a one-year extension may be granted by the Mayor.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 3, 59 DCR 7820; Oct. 22, 2015, D.C. Law 21-36, § 4132, 62 DCR 10905.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1535.03.

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 21-36 added (c)(5A), (5B), and (5C) and made a related change; and substituted “by August 2018” for “2 years after its initial meeting” in (d).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 4132 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).


§ 2–1535.03. Bullying prevention policy.

(a) Within 365 days of September 14, 2012, in coordination with the task force established pursuant to § 2-1535.02, each agency, educational institution, and grantee shall adopt a bullying prevention policy to be enforced:

(1) On its property, including electronic communication on, or with, its property;

(2) At sponsored functions;

(3) On its transportation, or transportation sponsored by it; and

(4) Through electronic communication to the extent that it is directed at a youth and it substantially interferes with the youth’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the agency, education institution, or grantee.

(b) Each agency, educational institution, and grantee shall control the content of its policy; provided, that each policy includes:

(1) The definition of bullying set forth in § 2-1535.01(2);

(2) A statement prohibiting bullying;

(3) A statement that the policy applies to participation in functions sponsored by the agency, educational institution, or grantee;

(4) The expected code of conduct;

(5) A list of the consequences that can result from an identified incident of bullying, which are designed to;

(A) Appropriately correct the bullying behavior;

(B) Prevent another occurrence of bullying or retaliation;

(C) Protect the target of the bullying;

(D) Be flexible so that in application they can be unique to the individual incident and varied in method and severity based on the:

(i) Nature of the incident;

(ii) Developmental age of the person bullying; and

(iii) Any history of problem behavior from the person bullying;

(6) A procedure for reporting bullying or retaliation for reporting an act of bullying, including for reporting bullying anonymously; provided, that no formal response shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report;

(7) A procedure for prompt investigation of reports of violations of its policy and of complaints of bullying or retaliation, including the name and contact information of the person responsible for investigating reports;

(8) An appeal process, in accordance with § 2-1535.04, for a person accused of bullying or a person who is the target of bullying who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation; and

(9) A statement that prohibits retaliation against any person who reports bullying, including the possible consequences for a person who engages in retaliatory behavior.

(c) Within 365 days of September 14, 2012, each agency, educational institution, and grantee shall submit a copy of its adopted policy to the task force, pursuant to § 2-1535.02(c)(5).

(d) The requirements of this subchapter and any policy adopted pursuant to this subchapter shall be deemed to constitute health and safety requirements for educational institutions.

(e) Information on the bullying prevention policy shall be incorporated into new employee training.

(f) Each agency, educational institution, and grantee shall develop a plan for how the policy is to be publicized, including the plan for:

(1) Discussing its bullying policy with youth; and

(2) Publicizing that the policy applies to participation in functions sponsored by an agency, educational institution, or grantee.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 4, 59 DCR 7820.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1535.02, § 2-1535.04, § 2-1535.05, and § 2-1535.06.


§ 2–1535.04. Secondary investigation appeal.

(a)(1) A party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation conducted pursuant to § 2-1535.03(b)(7) may request a secondary investigation by submitting a written appeal to the higher-level authority in the agency, educational institution, or grantee designated to hear appeals within 30 days of the conclusion of the investigation conducted pursuant to § 2-1535.03(b)(7).

(2) The secondary investigation shall be completed within 30 days of receipt of the appeal, unless:

(A) Circumstances require additional time to complete a thorough investigation;

(B) The higher-level authority sets forth those circumstances in writing; and

(C) The additional time does not exceed 15 days.

(b)(1) When an appeal for a secondary investigation is submitted, the agency, educational institution, or grantee shall inform the party about his or her ability to seek further redress under the Human Rights Act.

(2) This section shall not be construed to limit the right of a person to assert or seek redress for a claim arising under the Human Rights Act.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 5, 59 DCR 7820.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1535.03.


§ 2–1535.05. Retaliation.

(a) An employee, volunteer, or youth shall not retaliate against a victim or witness of bullying or a person who reports bullying.

(b) An employee or volunteer who has witnessed bullying in violation of a bullying prevention policy that is consistent with § 2-1535.03(a), or has reliable information that a person has been subject to bullying in violation of a bullying prevention policy that is consistent with § 2-1535.03(a), shall report the incident or information to the person designated by the agency, educational institution, or grantee, in accordance with § 2-1535.03(b)(7), as responsible for investigating the reports.

(c) An employee, volunteer, or youth who promptly and in good faith reports an incident of, or information on, bullying in compliance with the policy of the agency, educational institution, or grantee shall be immune from a cause of action for damages arising from the making of such report.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 6, 59 DCR 7820.)


§ 2–1535.06. Bullying prevention programs.

Following the adoption of a bullying prevention policy, as required by § 2-1535.03, each agency, educational institution, and grantee may:

(1) Establish an annual bullying prevention program for youth, which for each educational institution should align with established health-education standards;

(2) Inform youth about their right to be free from discrimination in public accommodations and education, and of the redress available for a violation of their rights under the Human Rights Act; and

(3) Provide training on bullying prevention to all employees and volunteers who have significant contact with youth.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 7, 59 DCR 7820.)

Section References

This section is referenced in § 2-1535.02.


§ 2–1535.07. Reporting requirement.

(a) Each educational institution shall provide to the Mayor, by a date determined by the Mayor, an annual report regarding the aggregate incidents of bullying, and any other information that the Mayor determines is necessary or appropriate.

(b) By September 1, 2014, and biennially thereafter, the Mayor shall:

(1) Review the programs, activities, services, and policies established pursuant to this subchapter of each agency, educational institution, or grantee to determine their effectiveness and whether the agency, educational institution, or grantee is in compliance with this subchapter; and

(2) Report the findings to the Council by December 31 of each year that a report is due, along with an assessment of the current level and nature of bullying in agencies, educational institutions, and grantees and recommendations for appropriate actions to address identified problems.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 8, 59 DCR 7820.)


§ 2–1535.08. Availability of other remedies.

This subchapter does not create a new private right of action or provide a statutory basis for a claim for damages against the District of Columbia or its employees.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 9, 59 DCR 7820.)


§ 2–1535.09. Rules.

The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of this title [§ 2-501 et seq.], may issue rules to implement the provisions of this subchapter.


(Sept. 14, 2012, D.C. Law 19-167, § 10, 59 DCR 7820.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary addition of provisions concerning a juvenile drug screening and treatment diversion plan, see § 513 of the Omnibus Criminal Code Amendments Emergency Amendment Act of 2012 (D.C. Act 19-599, January 14, 2013, 60 DCR 1017).