The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) announced on Friday that it opposed SF 345 the anti-bullying bill still active in the Iowa House. The measure is a priority of Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s administration and the Iowa Senate passed the bill on a 43 to 7 vote on March 31st. It passed out of the House Education Committee, but a motion to take the bill up for immediate consideration on April 22nd failed.
It can still be considered by the full Iowa House this session.
HSLDA Senior Counsel Scott Woodruff wrote, “HSLDA opposes the anti-bullying bill now pending in the Iowa Legislature, SF 345, because of the breathtakingly broad authority it gives school officials off school grounds.”
He added that if the bill only dealt with running public schools HSLDA would have stayed on the sidelines. “…the bill is not just about running the public schools. It gives power to public schools to call law enforcement agencies, social workers, etc., if they believe any person has bullied a public school student,” Woodruff added.
Woodruff points out specific problems with the bill.
Section 5 of the bill would create a new subsection of Iowa Code section 282.28. It would be labeled as subsection 9.
Paragraph (a), the first paragraph of subsection 9, only allows schools to punish public school students. Paragraph (a) is not uniquely problematic for homeschool families.
But the second paragraph of subsection 9, paragraph (b), operates completely independently of subsection (a). Paragraph (b) contains no limits whatsoever as to whom the school can punish for bullying. It could be a homeschool student, a private school student, or any adult.
The punishment in that case would be the school “referring” the matter to law enforcement, social workers, and other vaguely defined agencies. If you don’t think being investigated, intimidated, accused, or pressured by law enforcement or social workers is “punishment,” you have probably never been through it.
And while paragraph (a) only gives the school power to mete out punishment if the bullying is “founded,” paragraph (b) allows the school to initiate punishment if the bullying is merely alleged. So based on nothing more than an allegation, someone with no connection with a public school could find a policeman, social worker, and others knocking at his door to investigate him.
SF 345 gives the public schools the power to punish every citizen in their district by causing them to be investigated.
SF 345 is also opposed by Iowa Eagle Forum, Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition, Iowa RestorEd, The FAMiLY Leader, Concerned Women for American of Iowa, Professional Educators of Iowa, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa.