Gov. Dayton Sets Up School Bullying Task Force

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The push for tougher anti-bullying law in Minnesota has an important new supporter. On Tuesday, Gov. Mark Dayton announced he is creating a task force to come up with tough anti-bullying legislation.

Minnesota’s current law is considered one of the nations weakest. The current law only requires school districts to have an anti-bullying policy but gives no requirements beyond that.

Dayton said he gives the current law a grade of C-.

“Every Minnesota school child has a right to a good education in a safe, supportive, nurturing environment,” Dayton said.

As Dayton announced the creation of the task force, a key anti-bully activist was there to lend her support.

Tammy Aaberg’s 15-year-old son, Justin, hanged himself in his room in July 2010.

Justin’s friends told his mother he’d been bullied at Anoka High School because he was gay. Tammy Aaberg thanked the governor for forming the task force.

“Every day that we do nothing leaves more students feeling defenseless, worthless and afraid to go to school,” she said.

Three other suicides in the same school district have been linked to anti-gay bullying and the district is being sued by five current and former students for failing to prevent bullying.

In 2008, the then-Democratic legislature did pass a tough anti-bullying law only to have it vetoed by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

“I often wonder how many lives this could have saved if it were been passed back in 2009 instead of being vetoed,” said Tammy Aaberg.

State Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, who sponsored the legislation back in 2008, said he is grateful to the governor for forming the task force but says he is “dubious” the Republican legislature will act on any proposal the task force comes up with.

Republicans are sharply criticizing the announcement of the task force.

Republican State Rep. Pat Garofalo, Chair of the Education Finance Committee said, “While all students deserve a bully free environment” he does not think the solution is “for the state to be telling the school districts to do more things.”

More from Esme Murphy
  • good grief

    Do you think this will help?? People, do you realize this will be one more thing to put on public schools to pay for?

    • Mike

      Schools are for learning not taking out your aggressions, frustrations or bias’s on anyone you deem your target. Anyone attending public schools deserves the protection from those that perpetuate violence or aggression in any form including verbal or physical abuse. If you don’t like the rules, send your kids to a private school and let them deal with it.

    • Kevin Mc

      This is more payback to voters for Dayton. This will end up being another special interest gay-agenda response that will leave the rest of the bullied kids out in the cold. I am so sick of the special interest dominating politics.

      • wow

        I can hear it now: “Those public schools need more money. Where is the $$ going?” Answer: Doing a big job that has been set out for them, and paying for programs and demands set by congress. Them more laws you pass with requirements, the more expectations put on schools.

  • Ruth

    Every child deserves and has the right to a safe enviroment at school.

    • teacher

      What do you think teachers and staff are doing day in and day out?? Of course we are trying to make the best possible learning environment for students as possible. It’s never going to be enough because we don’t live in a perfect world. We do the best we can.

  • justsayiin

    i agree that something has to be done; but coming from someone who not only endured bullying but also bullied- kids are not going to cohear to any of it or change. it may just go from schools out to public places and online websites. i hate what i did to some of my classmates, but i have no grown and apoligized to many at high school reunions. every child does deserve to be in a safe enviroment, but i just dont see how this is going to change anything but the taxes many schools cant already afford

  • Evil2Hope

    I was bullied in middle school 15 years ago with students yelling at me in the halls and eventually being spit on while I sat next to them in band. I let my parents know the people who did it and where it was going on. Within 2 days of this the assistant principal and principal pulled this kids out of class and put what I consider to be the “fear of god” into them. They both apologized profusely and ended up becoming my friends in the end. So if this same tactic can continue to be utilized I see no need for more “policies”. My brother was 5 years my junior and started to be bullied so I found these kids and made the statement that “it stops today” and it did.


    I go to Anoka High School and I don’t agree with ANY of the accusations being made against my school. We are a loving family and have had a tough few years with all the deaths, like Justin, and others, but none of them were because of bullying. Our principal, Farley, does an amazing job at protecting our students and creating a bully-free environment. In the last 2 years, Anoka has lost nearly 10 students and we have been having a very tough time. And these kind of accusations are not making it any better!

    • Mike

      Is it serious when two national civil rights groups and a Minneapolis law firm are suing the district and county over allegations of bullying? Is it serious when five current and former students, say they’ve been peppered with demeaning slurs, stabbed with pencils, and urinated on by classmates?. Will it be serious enough for you if a judge or jury determines that the plaintiffs are right and the school, county and district are financially liable? It couldn’t be more serious………..

  • Kerry Hagen

    Please share this < I will support this task force and I would like to make sure this taskforce is and stays transperant not useing name s as most would be minor children and we could use all examples of abuse and note the signs at an early age , take all results and come up wth a plan to readjust that indivaul young persons life bullys come in all shapes,sizes and colors we need to come together as a village and help eachother raise our children, we can start we laws that protect child abuse IE spanking a child, vs sitting a child down and explaining right from wrong and yes the schools neeed to express respect yes it is there job to school OUR children and being polite should come natural but with a mix of low income and lack of education, FAMILIES have no choicenor do they know they are wrong , being uneducted is a disability and yes there is help and that help is swamped with the FAMILIES they have case loads and we cut the money that helps those FAMILIES when the rich public servants LAW MAKERS that make the laws work best for the rich, the poor middle class suffers and then the rich complain about all the drug dealer and shooting victims house break in s and they want more police to patrol and protect when all they need is nip it in the bud and teach our 1st graers right from wrong and yes put it in the currecolum fire the education director use that money t fund a super committee that would address this problem from the start and no dont take the children away from the parents for being over wight or being a bully or being a snob, or being a all and all jerk MANORS and RESPECT are thing tought by the parents now and I think it is time we take over that role a little bit yes it would add to the teachers schudle but lets all remember we are in a new agein education and the teachers of today have much more time then the teacheers of the past ie: we have smart boards that gives assignments for entire Quarters in the past the teacher had to write all that on chaulk boards a thing of the past in most moderen schools we have alot of UNION work done on public dime by all teachers at one point they assign one teacher per building to rep all teachers to assure thier pay raise taht could stop and be reassigned to a bullying officer in every building and this could be a show of good faith from the UNION leaders to offer that up.

  • Uhhh Duuuuh

    Nation of sissies. Call it what it is, they’re Collumbine proofing themselves.

    • Archie

      Yea remember the good old days when you could punch your child when he was to slow to bring your beer.. Or when no one listened when your wife complained that you were beating her, Ah dem were da good old days.

  • Kevin

    Do they just make cr@p up to spend more of my money??????

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