Community Values & Expectations
Life at Thayer is based on honesty, responsibility, and respect for oneself and others. Our rules and policies are designed to support these principles and to provide a safe, friendly place for students to learn, play, and grow as individuals and as members of the community.
By joining the Thayer community, each student agrees to abide by the rules and principles articulated in this handbook and by such additional rules and regulations as may be established by Thayer from time to time. While these rules and principles represent good-faith efforts to clearly state school policies, do note that in all disciplinary matters, Thayer Academy reserves the right, at its own discretion and in its best judgment, to vary from these procedures or to impose such penalties as it deems appropriate. Only in matters related to dismissal or expulsion may decisions be appealed to the Headmaster.
Every student enrolled at Thayer represents not only himself or herself and his or her family, but also Thayer by his or her conduct, on or off campus, and whether Thayer is in session or not. Thayer has the right at any time to impose disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal or expulsion, on any student if his or her actions, on or off campus, violate reasonable expectations of conduct, or in any way damage or impugn the reputation of Thayer, its faculty, or its student body. Such actions may include, but are not limited to: harassment or bullying, illegal use of drugs and alcohol, shoplifting, vandalism, disruptive and inappropriate behavior while on campus, or while visiting another school or institution. If a student is the subject of criminal proceedings (whether by way of arrest, the application for a criminal complaint, or otherwise), Thayer may suspend the student pending the outcome of those proceedings. However, Thayer is in no way bound by either the pending nature or the outcome of any criminal proceedings against a student. When warranted, Thayer may elect to pursue its own disciplinary proceedings and make its own determinations at any time – before criminal proceedings formally begin, while those proceedings are ongoing, or after those proceedings have concluded.
Harassment & Anti-Bullying Policies
Thayer Academy is committed to maintaining an atmosphere in which all members of our community are treated with respect and dignity. Bullying undermines these objectives and will not be tolerated. In addition, in certain circumstances, perpetrators of such behavior could find themselves subjected to criminal proceedings (see below).
Bullying can include, but is not limited to remarks, rumors, threats, gestures, physical contact, the display or transmission of images, written, verbal or electronic statements or other acts that are unwelcome or demeaning with respect to appearance, gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other characteristics. Students whose statements or actions, on or off campus, constitute disrespect, mockery, intimidation, harassment, or bullying (including cyber-bullying) will be subject to disciplinary action. Additional legal definitions and consequences can be found on the next page.
Massachusetts Anti-Bullying Law (signed May 3, 2010) defines bullying as:
“the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof, directed at a victim that: (i) causes physical or emotional harm to the victim or damage to the victim’s property; (ii) places the victim in reasonable fear of harm to himself or of damage to his property; (iii) creates a hostile environment[*] at school for the victim; (iv) infringes on the rights of the victim at school; or (v) materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.”
Cyber-bullying is defined by the same statute as:
“bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a wire, radio, electromagnetic, photo electronic or photo optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail, internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications. Cyber-bullying shall also include (i) the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or (ii) the knowing impersonation of another person as the author of posted content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying. Cyber-bullying shall also include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in clauses (i) to (v), inclusive, of the definition of bullying.”
*A hostile environment, exists when conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive that it materially interferes with a student’s educational experience.
In addition, the law also prohibits retaliation against any person who reports bullying, who provides information during an investigation of bullying, or who witnesses or has reliable information pertaining to bullying.
Reporting Bullying or Retaliation
Any student who feels he or she or any other student has been the subject of bullying or retaliation should immediately report the matter to his or her Division Director (Highley Thompson or Carson Smith). Student reports of bullying may be made anonymously, although no disciplinary action will be taken against a student solely on the basis of an anonymous report. Any faculty or staff member of our school community who has witnessed or otherwise “become aware of” any bullying or retaliation also must, by law, report it to the appropriate Division Director. The Upper and Middle School Counselors (Elizabeth Sullivan or Emily Wierdsma) are available to assist anyone who may need support in reporting such activity.
School Response to Allegations of Bullying or Retaliation
Once any allegation of bullying or retaliation is received, a prompt investigation of the charge will be conducted by the appropriate Division Director.
If the Division Director determines that bullying or retaliation has occurred, he shall (i) notify the local law enforcement agency if he believes that criminal charges may be pursued against a perpetrator; (ii) take appropriate disciplinary action;** (iii) notify the parents or guardians of a perpetrator; (iv) notify the parents or guardians of the victim, and to the extent consistent with state and federal law, notify them of the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation, (v) assess the victim’s need for protection and take appropriate steps as necessary to restore a sense of safety for the victim, and (vi) in consultation with the Upper and Middle School Counselors or others as appropriate, refer perpetrators, victims, and appropriate family members of such students for counseling or other appropriate services.
**The disciplinary actions that may be taken against a perpetrator of bullying or retaliation include the full range of disciplinary sanctions for other forms of student misconduct, up to and including dismissal from the school. In taking disciplinary action, the Academy will strive to balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. No disciplinary action will be taken against a student solely on the basis of an anonymous report.
If the Division Director determines that a student has knowingly made a false accusation of bullying or retaliation, the Division Director will take appropriate disciplinary action.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has published The Comprehensive School Health Manual with school guidelines regarding sexual harassment.
Students are protected from sexual harassment under the provisions of Title IX.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that schools are required to protect their students from sexual harassment.
- By law, the victim defines sexual harassment.
- Sexual harassment in schools is any unwanted or unwelcome sexual attention by students, faculty, or staff, including sexual suggestions or threats, sexual jokes, spreading sexual rumors, comments regarding body parts or sexual orientation, staring or pointing at body parts, obscene gestures, display of obscene materials or remarks, grabbing, touching, or intentional physical contact, pulling or touching a person’s clothing, impeding a person’s movements, and any implicit or explicit pressure for sexual activity.
- Any form of retaliation against any person who has made a complaint relating to sexual harassment is forbidden.
- Those involved with sexual harassment investigations must protect the confidentiality of all information relating to the case.
Any student who feels that he or she has been the subject of harassment by anyone in our school community must immediately report the facts of such harassment to his or her Division Director. In order to facilitate a thorough investigation, this report must be in writing, and should detail specific circumstances related to any harassment (date, place, name, description of what transpired). Once any allegation of harassment is received, a prompt investigation of the charge will be conducted. Any charge determined by the investigation to be valid will result in disciplinary action. Disciplinary action may be taken on the basis of any conduct, on or off campus, which poses a threat to persons or property within the school community.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires schools to advise all students of An Act Prohibiting the Practice of Hazing (1985). Section 17 of Chapter 269 of the Massachusetts General Laws defines hazing as:
“Any conduct or method of initiation into a student organization, whether on public or private property, which willfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of food, liquor, beverage, drug, or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.”
Violators are subject to fines and/or imprisonment. Any student who feels that he or she has been the subject of hazing by anyone in our school community must immediately report the facts of such hazing to his or her Division Director.
MASSACHUSETTS ANTI-HAZING LAW, M.G.L. c. 269, §§ 17-19
Section 17. Whoever is a principal organizer or participant in the crime of hazing, as defined herein, shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than one year, or both such fine and imprisonment.
The term “hazing” as used in this section and in sections eighteen and nineteen, shall mean any conduct or method of initiation into any student organization, whether on public or private property, which wilfully or recklessly endangers the physical or mental health of any student or other person. Such conduct shall include whipping, beating, branding, forced calisthenics, exposure to the weather, forced consumption of any food, liquor, beverage, drug or other substance, or any other brutal treatment or forced physical activity which is likely to adversely affect the physical health or safety of any such student or other person, or which subjects such student or other person to extreme mental stress, including extended deprivation of sleep or rest or extended isolation.
Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, consent shall not be available as a defense to any prosecution under this action.
Section 18. Whoever knows that another person is the victim of hazing as defined in section seventeen and is at the scene of such crime shall, to the extent that such person can do so without danger or peril to himself or others, report such crime to an appropriate law enforcement official as soon as reasonably practicable. Whoever fails to report such crime shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars.
Section 19. Each institution of secondary education and each public and private institution of post secondary education shall issue to every student group, student team or student organization which is part of such institution or is recognized by the institution or permitted by the institution to use its name or facilities or is known by the institution to exist as an unaffiliated student group, student team or student organization, a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen; provided, however, that an institution’s compliance with this section’s requirements that an institution issue copies of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations shall not constitute evidence of the institution’s recognition or endorsement of said unaffiliated student groups, teams or organizations.
Each such group, team or organization shall distribute a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen to each of its members, plebes, pledges or applicants for membership. It shall be the duty of each such group, team or organization, acting through its designated officer, to deliver annually, to the institution an attested acknowledgement stating that such group, team or organization has received a copy of this section and said sections seventeen and eighteen, that each of its members, plebes, pledges, or applicants has received a copy of sections seventeen and eighteen, and that such group, team or organization understands and agrees to comply with the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.
Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall, at least annually, before or at the start of enrollment, deliver to each person who enrolls as a full time student in such institution a copy of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen.
Each institution of secondary education and each public or private institution of post secondary education shall file, at least annually, a report with the board of higher education and in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education, certifying that such institution has complied with its responsibility to inform student groups, teams or organizations and to notify each full time student enrolled by it of the provisions of this section and sections seventeen and eighteen and also certifying that said institution has adopted a disciplinary policy with regard to the organizers and participants of hazing, and that such policy has been set forth with appropriate emphasis in the student handbook or similar means of communicating the institution’s policies to its students. The board of higher education and, in the case of secondary institutions, the board of education shall promulgate regulations governing the content and frequency of such reports, and shall forthwith report to the attorney general any such institution which fails to make such report.