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Senate passes long-sought anti-bullying bill on 25-8 vote

The Senate has voted 25-8 in favor of SB 1358a, the long-sought anti-bullying law. The bill clarifies the definition of bullying in Idaho schools, an infraction; requires school districts to have policies and to train staff on the issue, and to report and address cases of bullying.

Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, the bill's lead sponsor, told the Senate, "The state Department of Education gets more than one call a week who are concerned because their school is not doing anything" about their child being bullied.

Some opponents questioned whether the measure would be too burdensome on school districts, and others questioned whether it would impact home-schoolers, though the bill includes a specific exemption for home schools. Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, said, "There's nothing in here that encompasses home schools."

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, asked, "Really, are we making a mountain out of a molehill?" She said the issue should be addressed at the local level.

Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, the Senate education chairman and a supporter of the bill, said that as a sixth grader, "I guess I was a little bit of a bully. ... I'm here to hope we can not have that happen to someone else."

Sen. Edgar Malepeai, D-Pocatello, said as a teacher, "I have dealt with bullying at the high school level. ... It's there." He said what's missing is a consistent policy to ensure school districts address it.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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