cyber-bullyingI reported last week that the Iowa House Bullying Bill (HSB 196) that addressed “cyberbullying” survived funnel week as it was passed out of the Iowa House Education committee.  I had contacted several Republican members of that committee and I was assured that it would be amended.  As you recall my primary concern with the original bill was that it expanded a local school’s authority off of school grounds.  I didn’t believe that was appropriate.  Matters that occur at home should be handled by parents.

Governor Terry Branstad’s office when they introduced the legislation that was birthed out of the anti-bullying conference they held last fall noted what the bill would do:

Giving schools more authority to address cyber-bullying by (a) adding “social networking” to the definition of electronic communications and (b) stating that nothing stops a school from addressing bullying or harassment that occurs away from school or a school function, while providing additional protection to school employees who decide not to act on alleged bullying under those circumstances.

I was able to finally read yesterday the now amended bill which has been changed to HF 593.  Much, much better.  Here is the particular language I wanted to point out

It says that school employees, volunteers or students shall not engage in harassing or bullying behavior in any of the following locations or circumstances:

  • In school.
  • On school property.
  • In any vehicle which is owned, leased, hired, or provided by the school.
  • While attending or engaged in school activities.
  • In any other location or circumstance if the act or conduct at issue directly affects the good order, efficient management and welfare of the school.

That last section basically saying if you bring the behavior here….

The list seems reasonable.  I’m still not thrilled with the bill.  I don’t believe the state needs to be setting school policy.  This is something local school boards can do, but it doesn’t expand the authority of the school into the home and it amends a law already in existence.

I’m still going to keep an eye on it because I don’t know what the Iowa Senate will do and what would happen in conference should they have to reconcile two bills.

I’d also like to reiterate that I believe that kids being harassed online is a problem and it is one that needs to be addressed.  When it occurs off of school grounds/property or not during school time then the school district shouldn’t be involved.

Photo Credit: Kid-Josh via Flickr (CC-By-NC-SA 2.0)

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