BOISE – Lawmakers approved a plan Thursday to toughen up on bullies in Idaho public schools and to make the state’s 115 school districts take a more active role in policing students who harass, abuse and threaten their classmates.
The Senate voted 25-8 to pass a bill that would require educators to undergo professional training on bullying and to intervene if they witness a student being harassed.
The legislation would also make schools responsible for monitoring and defusing bullying at any school function and in cyberbullying cases that threaten a student’s learning environment.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, contends that tougher school policy is urgently needed to protect Idaho students who are picked on and who may be a suicide risk.
“We want every student in our school and every student in our state to be safe,” said LeFavour, the sponsor of the bill.
In Idaho, the state Department of Education receives weekly calls from angry parents who can’t get schools to stop their children from being harassed, according to LeFavour.
Even with the overwhelming support in the Senate on Thursday, the bill’s trip through the chamber was anything but smooth. It’s been amended several times and has drawn harsh criticism from some GOP lawmakers.
The legislation must still get approval from the House.