House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo (D-Winthrop) joined his colleagues in the House to pass legislation that builds on the 2010 landmark anti-bullying legislation by creating new reporting measures and recognizing certain populations as more vulnerable to bullying.
The updates are designed to increase the efficacy of the original legislation which prohibited bullying and cyber-bullying, and required schools to establish related programs. The bill creates a data collection and reporting mechanism that will help educators, administrators and legislators identify trends and respond appropriately.
“I am proud to join my colleagues in strengthening our anti-bullying laws,” Speaker DeLeo said. “We are fortunate to have an exceptional educational system in Massachusetts and it is our duty to ensure students are safe and are able to maximize these resources to the full extent. I believe this legislation will allow us to better understand and prevent bullying, and I thank Attorney General Coakley and Chairwoman Peisch for their work towards this goal.”
“This bill updates the landmark anti-bullying law to allow us to better measure the effectiveness of our efforts and to help create safe, supportive environments for those who are especially vulnerable to bullying, such as LGBT students and students with disabilities,” Attorney General Martha Coakley said. “We appreciate the work of Speaker DeLeo, Chairman Dempsey, and Chairwoman Peisch for their leadership on this critical issue and applaud the House for passing this bill. We look forward to working with the Senate to do the same.”
“This bill provides additional tools and resources that will allow the Commonwealth to continue its efforts to prevent bullying in schools, and will provide an opportunity for the state to measure the impact and effectiveness of the 2010 law,” said Representative Alice Peisch, Chair of the House Committee on Education (D-Wellesley).
Provisions of the bill are based on recommendations developed by a special commission chaired by Attorney General Coakley and include the following:
Schools must annually report bullying data to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and submit aggregate data on bullying to the Attorney General and Legislature;
DESE is required to inform parents about its Problem Resolution System and the process for seeking assistance or filing a claim;
School bullying prevention plans must recognize that certain enumerated categories of students may be more vulnerable to becoming targets of bullying.
The House voted 143-4 in favor of the legislation.