The Jefferson County Board of Education has asked colleague Vince Chowdhury to resign from his elected seat by July 25, after he was convicted of third-degree misdemeanor harassment in an incident in which he choked and slapped his 16-year-old daughter. And as Chowdhury mulls his choices, let’s consider the pertinent section of the district’s student conduct code, sent to students just this month, which emphasizes mutual respect — and clearly spells out what happens to bullies in their schools.
Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of the state’s largest school district, gets right to the point in her letter of introduction (PDF), dated July 2008, to parents and students:
Learning can best take place in a safe and orderly environment. In Jeffco Public Schools, we believe students and staff must treat each other with dignity. Mutual respect is the foundation for creating a climate where we can accomplish our mission, “To provide a quality education that prepares all children for a successful future.”
You are receiving this Conduct Code booklet so that you can become familiar with our district policies designed to promote safety through high standards of behavior. The booklet includes all Jeffco Schools policies related to student conduct and discipline. There are serious consequences for breaking rules of conduct, and these consequences are outlined in the Conduct Code. These policies include legal terms in order to make sure that we are precise and meet the requirements of state law …
Among the rules specified under the district’s Code of Conduct’s section on bullying:
The Board of Education recognizes the negative impact that bullying has on student health, welfare and safety and on the learning environment at school. Bullying is prohibited on all district property, at district or school-sanctioned activities or events, when students are being transported in vehicles dispatched by the district or one of its schools, and off school property when such conduct has a nexus to school or any district curricular or non-curricular activity or event.
All administrators, teachers, classified staff and students share the responsibility to ensure that bullying does not occur at any district school, on any district property, at any district or school-sanctioned activities or events, when students are being transported in any vehicle dispatched by the district or one of its schools, or off school property when such conduct has a nexus to school or any district curricular or non-curricular activity or event. Toward that end:
• All students who believe they have been victims of bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately report it to an administrator or teacher at their school.
• All students who witness student bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately report it to an administrator or teacher at their school.
• All administrators and teachers who have any incident of bullying reported to them shall promptly forward the report(s) to the principal or principal’s designee for appropriate action.
• All administrators, teachers and classified staff who witness student bullying in any such circumstance shall immediately take appropriate action to stop the bullying, as prescribed by the district and building principal, and shall promptly report the bullying to the principal or principal’s designee for appropriate action.
• Each building principal or principal’s designee shall ensure that all reports involving student bullying in any such circumstance are promptly and thoroughly investigated, and that appropriate action is taken.
In determining the appropriate action to be taken in response to incidents of student bullying, the building principal or principal’s designee shall consider existing policies and regulations that address the type of conduct that may be involved in bullying.
Discipline for student bullying may include suspension, expulsion and/or classroom suspension.
A week ago Chowdhury pleaded guilty to third-degree misdemeanor harassment involving a June 17 incident in which he choked and slapped his teenage daughter after she and his wife did not open the automatic garage door fast enough for him upon his arrival to their Golden home.
He received a one-year deferred sentence and must attend an anger management class.
Chowdhury, a Democrat, is also currently running for the state legislature. After his guilty plea last week, his primary opponent Camille Ryckman raked in endorsements from 18 sitting lawmakers.