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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session


Posted: March 8, 2018 11:07 AM
From: Representative Frank Burns
To: All House members
Subject: Bullying – Holding Schools and Parents Accountable
In the near future, I plan to introduce a package of legislation that, if enacted, would hold parents, school administrators and state officials accountable for the bullying that occurs daily in Pennsylvania schools.

Bullying is a pervasive scourge that not only goes underreported, but often unaddressed in a meaningful way. Students fear retaliation for reporting bullying and parents too often feel that their complaints fall on deaf ears. When bullying isn’t properly addressed, verbal taunts and online postings can escalate to physical assaults or, in the worst cases, suicide. For this reason, we need to hold students, parents and officials at all levels accountable for remedying and preventing bullying.

Please join me in sponsoring this vital package of legislation to help make Pennsylvania schools safer for all students.

Document #1

Introduced as HB2217

Description: Proposal #1: Notifies parents of bullying incidents and holds them accountable for repeated bullying by their child through fines or community service
My first bill would establish a three-tiered system for parental accountability and participation when a child repeatedly bullies others.  It would require all parents to be notified of each bullying incident.  Upon the first verified bullying incident, all parents would be notified of the incident and the actions taken by school officials to correct the situation.  The second time a child bullies, the bullying child’s parents would be required to take a parental class on bullying and would be invited to a bullying resolution conference in order to develop a plan that lays out what the student, parents and school will do to prevent further incidents.  If a child bullies three or more times within the same school year, the school would file a citation against the parents in district court.  Potential penalties would include a fine of up to $500 and/or community service.

Document #2

Introduced as HB2218

Description: Proposal #2: Creates an anonymous bullying reporting system and requires school administrators to follow-up on incidents or face disciplinary action
My second bill would provide a way for students, parents, teachers and classmates to anonymously report bullying.  The Department of Education would be tasked with creating an online complaint form that would allow anyone with knowledge of bullying to send relevant information directly to the department.  Each school would be required to post a link to the form on its website.  For each complaint received, state education officials would follow up with school administrators to ensure a bullying action plan is created and implemented.  If a school fails to create or carry out a plan, state officials could initiate disciplinary action.

Document #3

Introduced as HB2219

Description: Proposal #3: Requires bullying incidents to be tracked by schools and reported monthly to the Department of Education
My final bill aims to provide accurate, real-time data on bullying in our schools.  This legislation would add bullying and cyber harassment to those offenses that must be reported to the Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools.  Bullying incidents would be tracked by schools and reported monthly using the same data currently gathered for criminal offenses that occur on school property.  The department would post monthly bullying reports online and would tally the data at the end of each year to include annual statistics in the publicly available Safe Schools Reports already posted on the department’s website.