|I am preparing to introduce legislation that will strengthen the current requirements for bullying policies adopted by school districts, charter and cyber charter schools, intermediate units, and area vocational-technical schools. This was House Bill 1211 from the 2013-14 Session.
Bullying interferes with the education of students by causing stress, depression, and anxiety in its victims. Moreover, on a broader level, a culture of bullying can disrupt a school environment. Although current law requires all public school entities to have in place a policy relating to bullying, the existing requirements provide school entities with little guidance and may result in policies that are insufficient to prevent and respond to bullying.
My proposal will strengthen the current law related to bullying by:
- Requiring the State Board to convene an advisory committee to consider whether the mandatory school violence reporting deadlines should be modified and to promulgate regulations to change the deadlines if necessary.
- Requiring each school entity to adopt a model policy developed by the Department of Education (PDE), adopt its own policy or amend its existing policy, and setting forth more specific requirements for the elements that must be contained in the policy, including:
- Processes for reporting and investigating incidents of bullying.
- Processes for parent notification.
- Processes for police notification where the incident of bullying may also constitute criminal behavior.
- Consequences and remedial actions, including strategies for providing counseling or referral to appropriate services.
- Provisions related to annual training of school staff, students, and parents.
- Requiring PDE to develop a model policy and training materials, review school entities for compliance with the law related to bullying, and maintain a repository for the collection and analysis of information regarding bullying.
- Making distribution of safe schools funds to a school entity contingent upon PDE's approval of the school entity's bullying policy and the school entity's compliance with all school violence reporting procedures.
- By requiring school entities to toughen their bullying policies, my bill will help school entities create for their students a safer environment that is more conducive to learning.
Thank you for your consideration of this proposed legislation.