Under California’s laws, school districts have a legal obligation to protect the students in their care from bullying and harassment.

These laws give schools in this state specific directions on what they must do in order to stop bullying and abuse, particularly if the bullying is based on the victim’s membership in a protected class of people.

While school districts are not expected to stop every single incident of bullying, particularly so much of it happens in the form of cyberbullying on social media and outside of school, they are expected to cultivate an environment that discourage such behavior.

If school officials do witness bullying, they must take steps to stop it.

Schools must also take several specific steps to prevent bullying on an ongoing basis. One step is that the school must give students and their parents an opportunity to complain to the school about bullying.

The school must take appropriate steps to investigate the complaint and, if necessary, address the bullying.

Families who attend schools have the right to expect schools to take action

Families in California schools have the right to expect their schools to follow these laws. If they do not, families have the option of going through a formal grievance process. They may even have the option of filing a civil rights complaint depending on the circumstances.

Should these options fail, it will be important for parents to seek out appropriate advice about their legal options. In some cases, they may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the school for being negligent in following anti-bullying laws. Families may be able to get compensation for their economic and non-economic losses.