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PRINTER'S NO. 3241
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HOUSE BILL
No.
2217
Session of
2018
INTRODUCED BY BURNS, BRIGGS, THOMAS, HARKINS, YOUNGBLOOD,
READSHAW, SAYLOR, DEASY, STURLA, MURT, DeLUCA, ROEBUCK,
KIRKLAND, P. COSTA, RABB, KORTZ AND KINSEY, APRIL 3, 2018
REFERRED TO COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION, APRIL 3, 2018
AN ACT
Amending the act of March 10, 1949 (P.L.30, No.14), entitled "An
act relating to the public school system, including certain
provisions applicable as well to private and parochial
schools; amending, revising, consolidating and changing the
laws relating thereto," in safe schools, further providing
for definitions and for policy relating to bullying and
providing for parental responsibility in bullying.
The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
hereby enacts as follows:
Section 1. Section 1301-A of the act of March 10, 1949
(P.L.30, No.14), known as the Public School Code of 1949, is
amended by adding definitions to read:
Section 1301-A. Definitions.--As used in this article,
"Bullying" shall mean the following:
(1) An intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical
act, or a series of acts by a student directed at another
student or students that:
(i) occurs in a school setting;
(ii) is severe, persistent or pervasive; and
(iii) has the effect of doing any of the following:
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(A) substantially interferes with a student's education;
(B) creates a threatening environment; or
(C) substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the
school.
(2) Retaliation against a student or school employe by
another student or school employe for asserting or alleging an
act of bullying.
* * *
"School setting" shall mean a school, on school grounds, in a
school vehicle, at a designated bus stop or at an activity
sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by a school.
* * *
Section 2. Section 1303.1-A(a), (b), (d) and (e) of the act
are amended to read:
Section 1303.1-A. Policy Relating to Bullying.--(a) No
later than January 1, 2009, each school entity shall adopt a
policy or amend its existing policy relating to bullying and
incorporate the policy into the school entity's code of student
conduct required under 22 Pa. Code § 12.3(c) (relating to school
rules). The policy shall [delineate]:
(1) Delineate disciplinary consequences for bullying and may
provide for prevention, intervention and education programs,
provided that no school entity shall be required to establish a
new policy under this section if one currently exists and
reasonably fulfills the requirements of this section. [The
policy shall identify]
(2) Identify the appropriate school staff person to receive
reports of incidents of alleged bullying.
(3) Discuss the role of parents and guardians in preventing
bullying and bullying remediation and the penalties under this
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section.
(b) Each school entity shall make the policy available on
its publicly accessible Internet website, if available, and in
every classroom. Each school entity shall post the policy at a
prominent location within each school building where such
notices are usually posted. Each school entity shall ensure that
the policy and procedures for reporting bullying incidents are
reviewed with students within ninety (90) days after their
adoption and thereafter at least once each school year. Each
school entity shall provide a copy of the policy annually to all
parents and guardians, including the parental responsibility and
potential penalties established under section 1303.2-A.
* * *
(d) In its policy relating to bullying adopted or maintained
under subsection (a), a school entity shall not be prohibited
from defining bullying in such a way as to encompass acts that
occur outside a school setting if those acts meet the
requirements contained in [subsection (e)(1), (3) and (4).]
paragraph (1)(ii) or (iii) or (2) of the definition of
"bullying" in section 1301-A. If a school entity reports acts of
bullying to the office in accordance with section 1303-A(b), it
shall report all incidents that qualify as bullying under the
entity's adopted definition of that term.
[(e) For purposes of this article, "bullying" shall mean an
intentional electronic, written, verbal or physical act, or a
series of acts:
(1) directed at another student or students;
(2) which occurs in a school setting;
(3) that is severe, persistent or pervasive; and
(4) that has the effect of doing any of the following:
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(i) substantially interfering with a student's education;
(ii) creating a threatening environment; or
(iii) substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the
school; and
"school setting" shall mean in the school, on school grounds,
in school vehicles, at a designated bus stop or at any activity
sponsored, supervised or sanctioned by the school.]
Section 3. The act is amended by adding a section to read:
Section 1303.2-A. Parental Responsibility in Bullying.--(a)
(1) Upon receipt of a report or claim of bullying or cyber
harassment, the school principal or a designee shall conduct an
investigation within five (5) school days. If the principal or a
designee determines that bullying or cyber harassment has
occurred, the principal or a designee shall:
(i) Notify the parents or guardians of the student who
committed the bullying or cyber harassment and the parents or
guardians of the student against whom such acts were directed.
(ii) Outline the actions taken by the school entity to
remedy the situation.
(2) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed as
prohibiting a school principal or designee from reporting an
incident to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
(b) (1) Upon a second verified act of bullying or cyber
harassment by a student against any other student, committed
within the same academic year, the parents or guardians of all
students involved shall be notified and invited by advanced
written notice to attend a bullying resolution conference with
the applicable school personnel. The students shall attend the
conference.
(2) The conference shall occur even if the parents or
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guardians decline to participate or fail to attend.
(3) The outcome of the conference shall be documented in a
written bullying action plan and shall detail the actions that
will be taken by the student, the parents or guardians, and
school personnel. The office shall develop a form to be used for
the written plan and each school shall use a form substantially
similar to the form developed by the office.
(4) The parents or guardians of the student who committed
the bullying or cyber harassment shall attend at least one
instructional course, offered by the school entity, to educate
parents on the definitions of bullying and cyber harassment,
prevention strategies, ways to talk to children about bullying
and evidence-based methods for resolving its underlying causes.
(5) The instructional course under paragraph (4) shall be
offered at no cost to parents or guardians except in the
following circumstances:
(i) the parents or guardians fail to attend the bullying
resolution conference under paragraph (1); or
(ii) the parents or guardians fail to attend the
instructional course on bullying or cyber harassment under
paragraph (4).
(6) If parents or guardians fail to attend the bullying
resolution conference under paragraph (1), the instructional
course under paragraph (4), or both, the school entity shall
charge the parents or guardians a fee equal to the share of the
cost of the bullying resolution conference, the instructional
course, or both.
(7) The student who committed the bullying or cyber
harassment shall participate in an age-appropriate anti-bullying
class or workshop designed to educate the student on the impacts
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of bullying and cyber harassment, address the root causes of
bullying and cyber harassment and provide constructive conflict
resolution strategies and coping mechanisms.
(8) Upon a third or subsequent verified act of bullying or
cyber harassment by a student, against any other student,
committed within the same academic year, the school entity shall
notify the parents or guardians of all students involved and
shall file a citation with the appropriate magisterial district
judge against the parents or guardians who reside in the same
household as the child or who were named in the bullying action
plan.
(9) Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to require
a student, parent or guardian to attend a conference conducted
under this subsection.
(c) (1) The venue for filing a citation under subsection
(b)(8) shall be based on the location of the school in which the
child is enrolled. The magisterial district judge shall provide
written notice of the citation hearing to the school, the
parents or guardians and the student.
(2) At the citation hearing, the school has the burden to
prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the student repeatedly
engaged in bullying or cyber harassment.
(3) It shall be an affirmative defense to a citation filed
under this section against a parent or guardian that the parent
or guardian took every reasonable step to carry out the bullying
action plan and to stop the bullying or harassing behavior. An
affirmative defense must be proven by a preponderance of the
evidence.
(4) Before entering a decision, the magisterial district
judge shall permit the school, parent or guardian, or the
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student to present relevant information that will assist the
magisterial district judge in making an informed decision
regarding the appropriate sentence.
(5) The magisterial district judge shall determine whether
the evidence has established that a parent or guardian has met
their obligation under the school's bullying policy and any
written bullying action plan.
(d) A parent or guardian found in violation of this section
may be sentenced to:
(1) Community service benefiting the school at which the
child is enrolled.
(2) Pay a fine to the school entity in an amount not
exceeding $500 together with court costs, except that, in the
case of a second and subsequent offense, the fine may not exceed
$750 together with court costs. The fine shall be used by the
school district for the purpose of developing and conducting an
instructional course on bullying and cyber harassment under
subsection (b)(4).
(3) Upon failure of a parent or guardian to satisfy a
penalty imposed under this subsection, the parent or guardian
may be found in contempt of court and, upon conviction, may be
sentenced to up to three (3) days in the county correctional
facility. The court shall make the determination based on the
specific finding that the parents or guardians had a reasonable
ability to comply with the penalty imposed and that
noncompliance was wilful.
(e) For the purposes of this section, the following words
and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this
subsection unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Cyber harassment" shall mean activity that constitutes an
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offense under 18 Pa.C.S. § 2709(a.1) (relating to harassment).
Section 4. This act shall take effect in 60 days.
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