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Investigating

Behavior Incidents
Guide

NATIONAL HERITAGE ACADEMIES |


0
Investigating Behavior Incidents Guide

This guide is designed to provide an overview of essential processes to implement


when interviewing, collecting evidence, and documenting student behavior incidents.
Also included are best practices to keep in mind. Investigation practices are generally
for behavior defined as level 5 or 6 in the School-wide Behavior System. See the
School-wide Behavior System Handbook for more on behavior levels. This guide should
be used in conjunction with your Parent and Student Handbook, the School-wide
Behavior System Handbook and following any board and state policies. In addition,
ensure you have examined and followed any processes outlined in behavior plans or
Individual Education Plans (IEPs) for the student(s) involved in the investigation.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTERVIEWING.............................................................................. Error! Bookmark not defined.
Types of Questions ........................................................................................................ 2
Sample Questions ......................................................................................................... 3
Tips and Best Practices ................................................................................................. 4
COLLECTING EVIDENCE ......................................................................................................... 4
Tips and Best Practices .................................................................................................. 5
DOCUMENTATION ................................................................................................................... 5
Tips and Best Practices ................................................................................................ 5

1
INTERVIEWING
Interviewing all groups involved in the incident (target, offender, and witnesses) is a key part of
any investigation. Effectively gathering and recording accurate information is essential. If you
suspect or find evidence of bullying, notify your principal and reference NHA and state
processes for investigating and reporting bullying.

Keep in mind… (Things to Remember)

• This is an investigating interview, not a criminal “interrogation.”


• Consider who else may need to be involved (i.e. special education dean, principal, etc.).
• Focus on the incident.
• Do not paraphrase.
• Be impartial and non-judgmental.
• Keep your affect low by staying calm, with an even tone of voice, avoid facial
expressions or emotional reactions to information you may hear.
• Interview the target/complainant first, then witnesses, and lastly the offender.
• Answer who, what, when, where, why.
• Repeat the same questions with each student.
• Watch closely for non-verbal, body-language information.
• Try not to interrupt a student responding to a question.
• Write down and collect as much written documentation as possible. Consider having
another staff member sit in on the interview to scribe.

TYPES OF QUESTIONS

Type of
Description Example
Question
Open Used to get a quick summary of the Tell me what happened.
matter, encourages a narrative
response.
Closed Yes/no answers, generally used to Did the incident happen prior to
establish facts like date, time, location. recess?
Reframe from using too many closed
questions.
Double-negative Avoid, can be confusing and You didn’t tell him not to do it?
suggestive.
Leading Used to confirm facts you know. When you confronted Lisa in
the bathroom, what did she
say?

2
Attitude Question in which the attitude of the Can you explain why we have
interviewer is conveyed by the heard contradictory answers to
structure of the question, by tone of the same question?
voice, or intentionally altering body
language.
Do not use.

SAMPLE QUESTIONS
I am going to ask you some questions about a reported ___ (identify the kind of) ____ incident.
Please answer the questions the best you can. We will keep your answers anonymous as much
as possible.
1. Briefly, what happened?
2. Who was involved?
a. Who was the aggressor/ offender?
b. Who was targeted?
3. What did you see?
4. What did you hear?
5. What did you feel (physically)?
6. (If applicable, what did you smell / taste?)
7. Who was hurt?
a. How was that person hurt? (Physically? Feelings? Something broken or damaged?)
b. How do you feel now?
8. Was anyone else hurt in any way?
9. Was anything else damaged or broken? Missing?
10. Did you or anyone else miss school, classes or school work, in general?
11. Has this happened before?
12. Do you have anything you can show or give to me about this incident? Any evidence?
a. Examples: Notes, bruises, URLs, pictures, screen shots, etc.…
13. Why do you think this happened?
14. Who else should I talk to about this incident?
15. If there anything else you can / want to say about this incident?

3
TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES
- Conduct interviews in private.
- Minimize distractions.
- Separate students who need interviewed and do not have them wait together.
- Have students who are capable draft a written statement immediately.
- Interview only one person at a time.
- Budget your time- you may have to interview more people than you thought.
- Plan the order of interviews: target, witness, offender.
- Consider the impact technology (i.e... social media) can have on the incident and the
investigation. Do students have phones or internet access to communicate about the
incident during or after school? Will this fan the fire of the incident?

COLLECTING EVIDENCE
Evidence is a necessary part of any investigation. Prior to gathering evidence, reference the
Parent and Student Handbook for specific search and seizure processes, as well as student
code of conduct due process.

Keep in mind… (Things to Remember)

• Notes are evidence. Record everything, don’t rule anything out. Something you discard,
you may need later.
• All evidence should be kept in a secured, locked area.
• For computer-based evidence, use the print screen option to collect (do not copy and
paste).
• If technology- based evidence is involved (i.e. text messages, websites, social media,
digital photos, etc.) involve your principal to ensure proper handling.
o Avoid becoming a cyber police officer – in most cases, only those incidents that
occur during school hours, on school property, and/or with school-owned items
(technology) require investigation by the school.

Types of Evidence

Information: Interviews and other investigation procedures to gather information about events

Facts: General information used to reach conclusions

Physical: Anything tangible obtained or identified as a result of an investigation, including


records, forms, correspondence, and equipment

4
TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES
- Do not assume all students can write their own witness statement.
- Work with your leadership team to have a consistent place to store physical evidence.
- Label evidence with date, time, who collected, and where.
- Have students sign and date written statements.
- NEVER associate (possess, view, or share) any images, especially of a minor child, with
yourself (i.e. have an image emailed, texted, screenshot sent to you for evidence).
Instead, describe the image in detail in writing.

DOCUMENTATION
Accurate documentation is essential to ensure proper due process as well as for
reference in the future.

Document the following:

a. Age, grade, gender of students involved


b. Description of the incident, including where and when it occurred
c. Witnesses
d. Context of the incident
e. Evidence collected
f. Resolution
g. Alternatives to suspension, if applicable

TIPS AND BEST PRACTICES


- Keep witness statements and physical evidence.
- Create a system to store documentation, such as grade level binder or electronic folders.
- Once a resolution has been found, ensure proper documentation has been entered into
myNHA.
- Include timely parent notification.

5
Incident Documentation

Date: ________________________ Person completing this form: ___________________________________

People involved with/having


a role in the incident:
(indicate the person being
interviewed)

Brief description of the incident – what happened?

________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

Who was the aggressor/offender?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Who was targeted?

________________________________________________________________________________________

What did you see? Hear? Physically feel? (If applicable, what did you smell / taste?)

________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

Who was hurt and how were they hurt (physically, feelings, something broken or damaged)?

________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

Was anything damaged, broken, or missing?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Did you or anyone else miss school, class(es), or school work because of this incident?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Has this ever happened before?

________________________________________________________________________________________

Physical evidence – do you have anything to show or provide related to this incident? *Attach additional documents
directly to this form.

________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________