The anti-bullying/anti-harassment law is in Iowa Code section 280.28. That law was enacted primarily to protect students who are the targets of bullying behavior. How a school specifically disciplines students accused of perpetrating bullying or harassment is not addressed in section 280.28. Nor is a school prohibited from punishing a student whose conduct was not within the definition of bullying or harassment, but whose conduct otherwise violates school policy.
Schools must determine whether incidents meet the definition of harassment and bullying (below). Such determination is relevant to whether the incident is to be reported by the school on its Spring BEDS document, not as to whether the perpetrator should be punished for misconduct.
Per section 280.28, “'Harassment' and 'bullying' shall be construed to mean any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile school environment that meets one or more of the following conditions:
(1) Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or property.
(2) Has a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental health.
(3) Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's academic performance.
(4) Has the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.”