Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) – The Minnesota House has passed a bill requiring all public school districts to create policies aimed at reducing bullying. The bill passed Monday by a vote of 72-57. It was introduced after a rash of high-profile bullying incidents in school districts across the state.
There’s a lot of disagreement about whether the state should impose bullying standards on all local schools. Critics said it will create more bureaucracy, but might not reduce bullying.
The bill requires every school district to have anti-bullying policies, investigate complaints and keep records.
Democratic Rep. Jim Davnie says the bill is meant to protect students.
“Every kid deserves to be able to wake up in the morning and have the opportunity to go to a school that they’re excited to go to, ready to learn, and where they know they will be safe, they’ll be respected, they’ll be appreciated and challenged,” Davnie said.
The bill expands the definition of bullying to include harassment, intimidation and cyberbullying. But opponents like Republican Rep. Ron Kresha say local schools should come up with their own policies without state interference.
“How many times have we been in the teachers’ lounge and said, ‘You know, the suits in St. Paul are sending us another mandate.’ Well, I’m not going to go back to my district and say, ‘I don’t trust you,’” Kresha said.
One of the biggest concerns from conservative critics is that a statewide bullying policy could impose views on homosexuality and other issues on to parents and students who don’t agree with those views.
Private schools accepting any state funds would be required to obey the new bullying law. At the Minnesota Catholic Conference in March, members called it an “Orwellian nightmare” that might require “re-education camps.”
They added that the bill discriminates against students who believe that same-sex relationships are morally wrong.
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