House repasses bill toughening bullying standards

By Lee Ann Schutz

Session Daily

 

It has been nearly a year since the House passed the proposed Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act after a highly contentious debate.

Since then, HF826 has been in the hands of the Senate, but Thursday, April 3, after a 36-31 vote, the amended version returned to the House for concurrence.

After a more than 11-hour debate lasting into the early hours Wednesday morning, April 9,  the House agreed to the changes put forward by the Senate and repassed the bill 69-63. It moved to Gov. Mark Dayton, who signed the bill Wednesday during a ceremony on the Capitol steps.

Supporters say the anti-bullying legislation would put the state on the vanguard of a nationwide movement to make schools welcoming for all students.

“The bill — the Safe and Supportive Schools Act — provides students, teachers parents and administrators a strong set of tools to create their own anti-bullying policy and to take on the issue of bullying while creating safe educational school climates,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls), who sponsors the bill with Sen. D. Scott Dibble (DFL-Mpls).

The Senate amendments are largely clarifying language, he said, and would help reduce the price of the bill, which, according to the Revenue Department, wouldcost the General Fund $1.6 million in the 2014-2015 biennium. Davnie noted that the recent state funding increases to schools should help cover expected costs of implementation at the local level.

He said the “spirit throughout the bill” is a focus on bullying prevention, to create schools that are more orderly and welcoming and better places to learn.”

Republicans call the bill vaguely worded, overly prescriptive and an unfunded mandate that would erode local control and be personally intrusive.

“Big Brother is here,” said Rep. Jim Newberger (R-Becker). He accused the Democrats of stomping on personal rights and creating the “thought police.” He referenced a provision that would call on each district to designate a staff member as a primary contact to receive reports of prohibited conduct.

Noting the number of teachers that serve in the Legislature, Rep. Bob Dettmer (R-Forest Lake) said this is an issue best addressed by parents, teachers and administrators. “We support anti-bullying policies that are implemented at the local level.”

The bill is the result of recommendations put forward by a 15-member task force established by the governor in 2012.

It would define bullying, including cyber-bullying, and would specifically prohibit it on the basis of sexual orientation, race or religion, among other characteristics. It would apply to actions on school premises, at school functions, on school transportation or by use of school technology.

 

Other provisions in the bill include:

• Bullying prevention programs would be provided at each school district or charter school to all students from kindergarten through grade 12;

procedures to be established locally for reporting and documenting alleged acts of bullying, reprisal or retaliation;

• A requirement to notify law enforcement personnel if an investigation by school district or charter school personnel results in a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred;

• Strategies to protect a victim of bullying, reprisal or retaliation;

• Directive to the education commissioner to develop a state model policy, and require a district or school that doesn’t adopt a local policy to implement the state policy;

• The establishment of a school climate center at the Education Department to help schools implement the act; and

• In accordance with federal and state law, notification to the parent or legal guardian of a student allegedly bullied and the parent or legal guardian of a student allegedly bullying when school personnel receive a report of prohibited conduct, throughout and upon completion of the investigation, and upon determining the course of any disciplinary action.

  • Jhonnie Walker

    We can’t expect what will really happens tomorrow. Therefore, better be safe, than regret and feel sorrow. And for safety of these students, your child, or maybe your relative. I would suggest emergency safety service that everyone can carry all days. Check it from here: http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=52f12fafd5de8

  • Hyacinth Alagos

    Bullying consists of the least competent most aggressive employee projecting their incompetence on to the least aggressive most competent employee and winning.A bully really doesn’t have life. Why? Because he is so focused to live in yours.Those who walk with God always reach their destination. We can be the change help and participate check this out at http://bit.ly/1nctEuL.

  • Hyacinth Alagos

    Changes in behavior (if no other obvious cause) such as mood shifts, feeling depressed, not wanting to talk about friends or school; drop in school work or achievement; unexplained physical injuries or damage to belongings; any signs of self-harm should be taken very seriously. If you are brave say If you don’t like me, why do you waste your time making fun of me? stand up don’t be a victim be safe and keep protected check this out at http://bit.ly/1nctEuL.

  • Ronald West

    Bullying remains a public concern. What we want for our children is
    that, we want them to have the assertiveness skills necessary to feel
    confident and able to stand up for themselves and, equally important and
    difficult, to be able to stand up for their peers. As a mother, I
    always teach my children ways to feel good about themselves, how to get
    along with others, and how to treat each other with respect and dignity.
    I would like to share this link, about a service on how to protect your
    children: Check it out it’s interesting: http://safekidzone.com/?a_aid=514ae252c9f64

  • Calvin Sanders

    This bill can really help fight bullying in school. Bullying really is rampant. Good thing I have a SafeKidZone application downloaded on my children’s phones. I worry no more. This app is genuinely designed for our safety. This is an app that should be downloaded in everyone’s phone. By simply pressing the panic button, you will immediately be connected to a 24/7 Response Center. With the use of GPS on your device, they can easily locate you. The incident will be escalated to 911 if needed. In addition to that, you also have this safety network, may it be your family or friend, that will be notified and know your situation. If by a chance they’re near your location, I guess you won’t need a 911 responder. All my family and friends have this on our phones. Just visit thier site to know more about this amazing app:http://safekidzone.com/#!/page_home

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