The Senate Education Committee passed Senate Bill 184, aimed at combating cyberbullying in schools, by a vote of 9-0 on Thursday. It can now be scheduled for a vote before the full Senate.
Members of the Committee praised the bill as a natural follow-up to past legislative efforts to address bullying.
Senate Bill 184 requires the definition of bullying in DPI's model policy include bullying by electronic means. The bill also requires that the model policy include a requirement that a school district official who has reasonable cause to suspect that a bullying incident is a violation of a criminal law report the incident to a law enforcement agency. Finally, the bill requires the model policy to include appropriate responses to bullying that occurs off school grounds if the bullying creates a hostile environment at school for the pupil bullied or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a school or school-related event.
SB 184 also creates a new misdemeanor category for online bullying that occurs on social media sites. Current law only regulates online bullying via e-mail messages.