A recent Schoolyard Lawyer blog entry, Special Education Students and the Bullying Law, discussed how the Massachusetts bullying law provides additional protections to students with disabilities. The law 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.”
For students with disabilities, the reasonable fear of harm is individually catered to that student regardless of their disability. Therefore, the law protects students whose disability causes them to be in fear even if no other student would perceive the act or behavior the same way. This is important for students with disabilities because it provides them the additional protection they may need.