DES MOINES — Gov. Terry Branstad said his second anti-bullying summit will focus on what parents can do to stop bullying in schools.
“Schools alone can’t stop bullying, it takes the entire community working together,” Branstad said Monday as he announced the Nov. 4 summit, which will be held at Hy-Vee Hall in downtown Des Moines.
“We think the community needs to be involved,” he said. “Parents can play a very key role in this and also the community itself.”
The Republican governor introduced an anti-bullying package this year that failed to be brought up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Iowa House.
Some conservatives were uncomfortable with language in the governor’s bill that explicitly gave school officials the authority to enforce anti-bullying laws for off-campus incidents. The law also indemnified school officials if they didn’t act, but some lawmakers worried about the precedent such a law would set for government intrusion into private homes.
At the time, administration officials said the provision was needed because of bullying over social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
On Monday, Branstad said social media bullying needed to be addressed in the law, but he stopped short of saying the new legislation would include the same provisions.
“Now a lot of (bullying) happens over the social media, and the school has to deal with the repercussions of that even though it happened off of school property,” he said. “That’s one of the more difficult issues that schools have to deal with.”
Keynote speaker for the event will be Emily Bazelon, a legal affairs writer and author of the book “Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy.”
This year, the governor’s proposal came out during the latter part of the legislative session when lawmakers were in the midst of work on education reform, property tax reform and road funding legislation.
Linda Fandel, Branstad’s special adviser for education, said the next anti-bullying bill should be ready for the start of the 2014 session. Branstad compared the negotiations on the bill ahead to such thorny issues as property tax cuts and his signature education reform package that cleared the way for new methods to evaluate teachers, administrators and students.
“Sometimes on an issue that’s this complex, it takes some time. I’m very hopeful that we can continue to perfect and improve the legislation,” he said. “You know, education reform and property tax relief didn’t happen in one session; they took three. Hopefully, this can be accomplished in two.”