Introduction to Investigation of Cyberbullying and Harassment

(Content Under Development : Coming soon)

Accepted in: NC, SC, TN, KY, NM, KS, GA, IA, MN, OK (approved for 2 hours)

The investigation of bullying and harassment of student cases filed against school districts in federal and state courts throughout the country has become more common. Inevitably, cyberbullying is one element of harassment that may involve multiple harassers.

School districts and officials should comply with the law and respond appropriately to bullying. Recently, however, the Supreme Court overturned laws intended to protect bullied students in North Carolina.

Purpose and Goals of Investigation of Cyberbullying and Harassment Course

In the investigation of bullying, it is important to understand and document speech and conduct. A recent North Carolina Supreme Court case has held speech cannot be regulated, but conduct may be regulated.

The reality is that speech and conduct can be interrelated. We will examine the subtleties and distinctions between speech and conduct and share the best methods for documenting and recording your findings in order to build a strong case of bullying.

This course will examine the federal and state bullying laws. Real-life examples will illustrate the limitations placed on the controlling of bullies based upon First Amendment freedom of speech rights.

Bullying hurts, traumatizes, and even drives children to suicide. The consensus among physicians, social scientists, and educators are that bullying can seriously impair the physical and psychological health of victims and their educational achievement. The short- and long-term psychological impact alone can be highly destructive.

Learning Objectives

  1. Define student bullying.
  2. Understand federal legal theories and standards that apply to bullying.
  3. Determine when schools are responsible for bullying that occurs between students.
  4. How does the theory of legal immunity impact the liability of schools for bullying?
  5. State legal theories on bullying and recent State Supreme Court decisions.
  6. Conducting your investigation to document speech and conduct.

1.1 What is bullying?

  1. Psychologists’ definition of bullying
  2. Taking bullying seriously
  3. Verbal bullying
  4. Social or relationship bullying
  5. Physical bullying
  6. School hour bullying
  7. Extracurricular bullying
  8. Internet bullying

2.1 Defining Bullying

  1. Psychological definition
  2. Legal definition

Short-term and Long-term Impact Bullying

  1. Impact of repeated abuse without intervention
  2. Humiliating, scaring, and isolating a child
  3. Life impact of bullying conduct

3.1 State Anti-Bullying Laws

  1. School districts and school boards
  2. Individual schools
  3. State laws

4.1 Federal Laws and Bullying

  1. Federal anti-discrimination statutes and the U.S. Constitution
  2. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 5.1
  3. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  4. Title II of the Americans with Disability Act of 1990

5.1 When Are Schools Responsible for Bullying

We will examine standards which include that a plaintiff must satisfy each of the following elements to establish a prima facie case of peer sexual harassment:

  1. The school had actual knowledge of the sexual harassment;
  2. The school acted with deliberate indifference to the sexual harassment; and
  3. The sexual harassment was so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it could be said to deprive the plaintiff of access to educational benefits or opportunities provided by the school.

6.1 How to Investigate to Overcome Schools and Legal Immunity

  1. Significant obstacles to asserting state law claims related to bullying, including sovereign immunity.
  2. Tort claims and immunity – how to investigate to overcome sovereign immunity
  3. What is qualified immunity and how to find the facts to overcome that legal protection doctrine
  4. Are school boards protected by sovereign immunity? How to access and review their actions.
  5. Schools are liable for employee conduct typically and not student conduct. How to investigate a school’s role in bullying.

State Laws and Recent Supreme Court Decisions: How to Shape Your Investigation

  1. How are bullying and cyberbullying defined in North Carolina anti-bullying laws and regulations?
  2. North Carolina anti-bullying laws cover off-campus conduct by imposing criminal sanctions for cyberbullying.
  3. What are the policy requirements for schools to prevent and respond to bullying behavior?
  4. Do North Carolina anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to implement bullying prevention programs or strategies?
  5. North Carolina school districts must develop and implement methods and strategies for promoting school environments free of bullying or harassing behavior.
  6. North Carolina anti-bullying laws and regulations encourage or require districts to train teachers and other school staff on how to respond to bullying incidents.
  7. In 2016 the North Carolina Supreme Court found that the statute “violates the First Amendment” because it regulates speech rather than conduct.

8.1 Where do we go from here? Shaping Your Investigation

  1. J.L. v. Pitt County Board of Education, No. 18-SP-57 (Pitt Co., NC Super. Ct. 2018)
  2. Investigate speech and document conduct

Course Information

Adult Education Methods Utilized

  • Downloadable handouts
  • Narrated slides
  • Case Studies

Textbook and Course Materials

  • Articles
  • On-demand video
  • Downloadable materials
  • Certificate of Completion

Course Requirements

  • Internet connection (DSL, LAN, or cable connection desirable)
  • Access to the internet
  • Ability to use a personal computer

Course Offerings

  • Certificate of Completion
  • 60-day unlimited course access

Course Structure

This course will be delivered entirely online through the website. Participants will use website credentials to log in and access their accounts. Participants will access online lessons, course materials, and resources. The course will be broken down into modules for self-paced learning. Access to the course is limited to 60 days. Following the completion of the course, students will receive a certificate of completion for Continuing Education Credits and licensing renewal.

*Make sure this course is approved by your state for licensing renewal.

  • This course will be delivered online through a course management website named
  • To access this course online, you will need to access the Internet and a supported Web browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Chrome.

Technical Assistance

If you require technical assistance at any time during the course or to report a problem: