SB 161
Modifies requirements for school antibullying policies and modifies provisions relating to reading instruction and student promotion in certain school districts
LR Number:
Last Action:
3/18/2015 - Voted Do Pass S Education Committee
Journal Page:
Calendar Position:
Effective Date:
August 28, 2015

Current Bill Summary

SB 161 - This act modifies provisions relating to school district procedures.

ANTIBULLYING POLICIES: This act modifies the requirements for school anti-bullying policies. The definition of "bullying" is modified to include intimidation or harassment that substantially interferes with the educational performance, opportunities, or benefits of any student without exception, or that substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school. Bullying is prohibited by students on school property, at school functions, or on school buses. Cyberbullying is defined in the act.

This act requires that antibullying policies treat all students equally.

Each school district's antibullying must be included in the student handbook. School district policies must contain, at a minimum, the following components: a statement prohibiting bullying, including a definition of bullying, as described in the act; a statement requiring district employees to report an instance of bullying of which he or she has firsthand knowledge, has reasonable cause to suspect that a student has been subject to bullying, or has received a report of bullying from a student; a procedure for reporting an act of bullying; a procedure for prompt investigations; how a school will respond to a confirmed incident of bullying; a statement prohibiting reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports an act of bullying; a statement of how the policy will be made public; and a process for discussing the policy with students and training employees and volunteers, as described in the act.

School district administrations must instruct their school counselors to educate students who are victims of bullying on techniques to overcome the negative effects of bullying, including the following: cultivating the student's self-worth and self-esteem; teaching the student to defend himself or herself assertively or effectively; helping the student develop social skills; and encouraging the student to develop an internal locus of control.

School district administrations must implement programs and other initiatives to prevent bullying, respond to such conduct so as to not stigmatize a victim, and to make resources or referrals available to victims of bullying.

This section is similar to SCS/HCS/HB 134 (2013), SB 440 (2015), SB 560 (2014), CCS/SCS/HB 458 (2015). (Section 160.775)

READING INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT PROMOTION: This act requires, beginning July 1, 2016, all public schools in the St. Louis City School District and Kansas City School District, including charter schools, to use a response-to-intervention tiered approach to reading instruction for students determined by their school to be struggling readers. At a minimum, the reading levels of students in kindergarten through tenth grade must be assessed at the beginning and middle of the school year. Students who score below district benchmarks must be provided with intensive, systemic reading instruction.

Beginning on January 1, 2016, and each January thereafter, each public school in the St. Louis City School District and Kansas City School District, including charter schools, must prepare a personalized learning plan for any kindergarten or first grade student whose most recent school-wide reading assessment result shows the student is below grade level. Certain exceptions exist from this requirement for students with an IEP or a Section 504 Plan. For any student with a personalized learning plan, the student's main teacher must consult with the student's parent or guardian about the plan and must have consent to implement it. If a student is still performing below grade level through the end of the first grade year, the school must refer him or her for assessment to determine if an IEP is necessary. If an IEP is not necessary, the personalized learning plan must remain in place until the student is at grade level.

Any student who is not reading at the second grade level in the St. Louis City School District and the Kansas City School District by the end of second grade may be promoted to third grade only if one of three conditions is satisfied. First, a student may be promoted if the school provides additional reading instruction during the summer and demonstrates the student has the abilities and the knowledge to successfully learn in third grade at the end of summer school. Second, a student may be promoted if the school provides a "looping" classroom in which the student remains with the same teacher for multiple years. If the student is in a looping classroom but is not reading at the third grade level by the end of third grade, the student must be retained. Third, a student may be promoted if the student's parents or guardians may sign a notice that they prefer to have the student promoted. However, the school will have final determination to retain the student.

The St. Louis City School District, the Kansas City School District, and each charter school located in them must provide in the annual school accountability report card the numbers and percentages by grade of any students at grade level who have been promoted but who have been determined as reading below grade level.

School districts and charter schools subject to this requirement may provide for a student promotion and retention program and a reading instruction program that are equivalent to those which are described in this section with the oversight and approval of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

This section is identical to a provision contained in CCS/SCS/HCS/HB 42 (2015) and SCS/SBs 1, 22, 49 & 70 (2015) and is substantially similar to a provision contained in CCS/HCS/SCS/SBs 493, 485, 495, 516, 545, 595, 616 & 624 (2014) and HB 2214 (2010). (Section 167.730)