Hawaii education officials propose stricter bullying policy

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HONOLULU (AP) — The Hawaii Department of Education is proposing changes to its misconduct and discipline policy, creating a new offense of sexual harassment and increasing the offense classification of bullying.

The state Board of Education voted unanimously last week to send the proposed revisions out for public hearings.

Bullying, cyberbullying and harassment would be upgraded to the most serious offense classification for intermediate and high school students under the proposed changes. That category of prohibited conduct includes assault, fighting and weapons possession.

The rule changes also acknowledge sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in its protections against bullying and harassment.

Department spokeswoman Nanea Kalani says the changes have been in the works for nearly a year and satisfy federal requirements.

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