DES MOINES – The Iowa Senate voted 26-19 on Tuesday to approve a measure designed to make schools safer by strengthening policies to curtail bullying and harassment of students.
Senate File 2318 included provisions requiring educator training, bolstering parental notification for bullying incidents, and affirming the ability for school officials to discipline students for bullying problems that arise off school property or online.
It passed on a party-line vote with 26 Democrats in favor and 19 Republicans opposed. A total of five GOP senators were absent when the vote took place.
Along with addressing off-campus activity, expanding the definition of bullying and harassment to include cyber bullying, and clarifying school authority to address problems that arise off school property and outside school hours, the proposal included funding for a new office within the state Department of Education and a $750,000 grant program for districts to promote safer schools.
Republicans tried unsuccessfully to accelerate the timeframe whereby parents would be notified of a bullying issue at school and would remove a list of student traits and characteristics that were part enumerated in the Iowa code as part of 2007 safe schools legislation.
The bill now goes to the Iowa House, where majority Republicans likely will make changes to SF 2318.
The anti-bullying proposal is one of Gov. Terry Branstad’s priorities for the 2014 legislative session.
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