A r c h i v e d   I n f o r m a t i o n

Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools - January 1999

Dear School Superintendents, Administrators, School Board Members and Equity Coordinators:

As education and law enforcement officials, we are all committed to ensuring that students throughout our nation are able to attend school safely, free from all forms of harassment. Regrettably, however, some students are subject to verbal and physical abuse and intimidation based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, disability, or sexual orientation. This harassment can lead to serious violence against students and can affect adversely their ability to learn or to benefit from an educational program.

School officials, working closely with students, parents and community groups, play a critical role in ensuring that such forms of harassment and violence have no place in our schools. In this regard, we are pleased to provide you the enclosed copy of Protecting Students from Harassment and Hate Crime: A Guide for Schools, developed jointly by the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, and the Bias Crimes Task Force Subcommittee of the National Association of Attorneys General.

The Guide provides school administrators and others with practical guidance for developing a comprehensive approach to protecting students from harassment and violence. It provides step-by-step assistance to schools for:

  • developing a comprehensive written anti-harassment policy;

  • identifying and responding effectively to harassment;

  • establishing formal reporting and complaint procedures;

  • creating a safe and supportive school climate;

  • responding to hate-motivated violence through cooperation and partnerships between school and law enforcement officials;

  • developing crisis intervention plans to avoid disruption of the educational process.

The Guide defines and describes harassment and hate crimes, contains information about applicable laws, details specific positive steps that schools can take to prevent and respond to harassment, includes sample policies and procedures used by school districts in the United States, and identifies many of the resource materials available to assist schools.

While the use of the attached Guide will by no means eliminate all harassment and violence at schools, we believe that information contained in it will provide invaluable assistance to schools when developing the policies and procedures necessary to create safe schools that foster constructive relationships among students and staff. Ultimately, it will take the efforts of all members of the community, educators, parents, students, law enforcement and others to make schools a place where every single student is safe and has an equal opportunity to learn.

We hope you will find this Guide useful and look forward to working together with you to prevent harassment and violence in our nation's schools.

Yours sincerely,

Mike Moore
Attorney General of Mississippi
President, National Association
    of Attorneys General

Norma V. Cantú
Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Education

Andrew Ketterer
Attorney General of Maine
Chair, Civil Rights Committee
National Association of
    Attorneys General


[Letter from the Secretary of Education] [Table of Contents] [Acknowledgments]