SB 728 - 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 and removes the requirement that policies not identify lists of protected classes of students.
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; the district administration must notify the parents or guardians of the individual alleged in a report to be responsible for a bullying incident or the target of a bullying incident; a procedure for reporting an act of bullying, including anonymous reporting, as described in the act; 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. The policy must be reviewed annually for compliance with state and federal law.
Any student alleging to be the target of an incident of bullying who has completed all procedures required by the district's reporting policy and who continues to be subjected to bullying must be informed by the district that he or she may seek other remedies. The information may include information to the parents or legal guardians of the possibility of civil action against the person responsible for the bullying. Also, the student and parents or legal guardians must be informed that they may request intervention by any other county, state, or federal agency or office that is empowered to act on behalf of the student.
The State Board of Education must develop model anti-bullying policies to assist school districts no later than September 1, 2017, and has authority to promulgate rules and regulations under this act.
This act is similar to SB 748 (2016), SB 1029 (2016), SB 560 (2014), and to a provision contained in SCS/HCS/HB 1583 (2016), and is substantially similar to SB 440 (2015), SS/SCS/HB 458 (2015), HCS/HB 134 (2013), and HCS/HB 1049 (2012).