Enacts the "anti-bullying act"; prohibits bullying on school property; defines bullying; establishes punishment for people who are found guilty of bullying on school property; establishes the class B misdemeanor of aggravated harassment of teachers and school personnel.
BILL NUMBER: S1253B
TITLE OF BILL :
An act to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting bullying on school property; and to amend the penal law, in relation to establishing the crime of aggravated harassment of teachers, school personnel and school board members
To define and prohibit the bullying of students and others on school property and to include the provisions prohibiting such bullying in school district codes of conduct.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS :
Section 1: Provides that it is the Legislature's intent to continue to ensure that school pupils, teachers and other personnel are provided with a safe and secure learning environment. In addition, it states that the Legislature finds that prohibiting bullying on school property is an appropriate means to enhance the safety of public schools in New York State.
Section 2: States that the act shall be known as the "Anti-Bullying Act".
Section 3: Amends section 801-a of the Education Law to include addressing methods to discourage acts of bullying as a component of the required instruction in civility, citizenship, and character education.
Section 4: Amends section 2801(2)(d) of the Education Law to add bullying to the list of incidents for which disciplinary measures must be taken pursuant to the district's code of conduct.
Section 5: Amends section 2801(2) of the Education Law to have procedures in a district's code of conduct which require school employees to report incidents of bullying. States that a willful failure of an employee to report such an incident shall be a class A misdemeanor. Provides immunity from civil liability when an employee in good faith reports an act of bullying.
Section 6: Amends the Education Law to create a new section 2803, which defines bullying and provides that a student or school employee found to have bullied a student in a public school or on school property is subject to disciplinary action in accordance with the district's code of conduct. Clarifies that the language does not create a private cause of action.
Section 7: Amends Section 3028-c of the Education law to protect school employees who in good faith report acts of bullying on school property from civil liability and retaliatory action by the school district.
Section 8: Amends the Penal Law by adding a new section 240.33 to create the crime of Aggravated Harassment of Teachers and School Personnel, making it a Class B Misdemeanor.
Section 9 sets forth the effective date.
EXISTING LAW :
No provisions in present law specifically address bullying on school property. JUSTIFICATION :
In recent years, the New York State Legislature has enacted legislation to increase the safety of students while in school or at school functions. In particular, schools must annually print and distribute codes of conduct which enumerate specifically prohibited behaviors and the consequences for such actions.
Highlighted by the tragic suicides of young teenagers in New York and beyond, bullying is no longer something to be dismissed as mere childhood antics. Unrelenting and egregious acts of bullying occur every day. Unfortunately, "bullying" is still ignored in certain schools and in some cases actually tolerated. Bullying, however, can be more than temporarily distracting to a student, it can be terrifying and emotionally damaging. It is not uncommon for youngsters who have been the victims of constant bullying to experience academic failure and serious social problems. Noted psychologist and researcher Dan Olweus pinpoints the destructive role of bullying in our schools, "Bullying poisons the educational environment and affects the learning of every child."
In today's age of advanced technology, twenty-four hour connectivity and social networking, students who are subjected to acts of bullying have no reprieve. Taunts and acts of bullying that begin in school follow students home every day, and have lasting impacts on the child. In fact, the United States Department of Justice reports that cyber-bullying, bullying through the means of any electronic device, is at an all time high. Forty-three percent of teenagers reporting being victims of cyber-bullying.
Therefore, to further ensure the safety of students and school employees, this legislation requires that the code of conduct in every school specifically identify and prohibit bullying, both conventional and cyber-bullying. The bill also requires that existing instruction in civility, citizenship and character education include a component which addresses methods of discouraging bullying and further mandates the reporting of bullying to school officials.
Moreover, the legislation creates the crime of aggravated harassment of teachers and school personnel.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY : 2007-08: S.3124 - Referred to Education 2005-06: S.5703 - Referred to Education 2003-04: S.4023-A Passed Senate 2002: S.7690 - Passed Senate.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS :
EFFECTIVE DATE : September 1 next succeeding the date on which it becomes law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1253--B 2009-2010 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 28, 2009 ___________Introduced by Sens. SALAND, ALESI, BONACIC, DeFRANCISCO, FARLEY, FLANA- GAN, FUSCHILLO, GOLDEN, GRIFFO, HANNON, O. JOHNSON, LANZA, LARKIN, LAVALLE, LEIBELL, LIBOUS, LITTLE, MARCELLINO, MAZIARZ, McDONALD, MORA- HAN, NOZZOLIO, PADAVAN, RANZENHOFER, ROBACH, SEWARD, SKELOS, VOLKER, WINNER, YOUNG -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Education -- recommitted to the Committee on Education in accordance with Senate Rule 6, sec. 8 -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee -- committee discharged, bill amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said committee AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to prohibiting bullying on school property; and to amend the penal law, in relation to estab- lishing the crime of aggravated harassment of teachers, school person- nel and school board members THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Legislative intent. In recent years, New York has taken steps to ensure that school pupils, teachers and other personnel are provided with a safe and secure learning environment. However, egre- gious incidents of bullying, both in person and through the use of tech- nology, have increased. Bullying can come in many forms, and while the physical wounds may heal, the effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Therefore, the legislature finds that prohibiting bullying on school property is an appropriate means to enhance the safety of New York state's public schools. S 2. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "anti-bullying act". S 3. Section 801-a of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: S 801-a. Instruction in civility, citizenship and character education. The regents shall ensure that the course of instruction in grades kindergarten through twelve includes a component on civility, citizen- ship and character education. Such component shall instruct students on the principles of honesty, tolerance, personal responsibility, respectEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD07263-08-0 S. 1253--B 2
for others WITH AN EMPHASIS ON DISCOURAGING ACTS OF BULLYING AS DEFINED IN SUBDIVISION ONE OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE OF THIS CHAPTER, observance of laws and rules, courtesy, dignity and other traits which will enhance the quality of their experiences in, and contributions to, the community. The regents shall determine how to incorporate such component in existing curricula and the commissioner shall promulgate any regulations needed to carry out such determination of the regents. S 4. Paragraph d of subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: d. disciplinary measures to be taken in incidents involving the possession or use of illegal substances or weapons, the use of physical force, BULLYING, vandalism, violation of another student's civil rights and threats of violence; S 5. Subdivision 2 of section 2801 of the education law is amended by adding a new paragraph f-1 to read as follows: F-1. PROCEDURES BY WHICH ANY SCHOOL EMPLOYEE, HAVING REASONABLE CAUSE TO SUSPECT THAT A STUDENT HAS BEEN THE VICTIM OF BULLYING OR HAS COMMIT- TED AN ACT OF BULLYING AS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE OF THIS ARTICLE, SHALL BE REQUIRED TO REPORT SUCH INCIDENT TO THE PRIN- CIPAL OR DESIGNEE THEREOF. IF THE PRINCIPAL OR HIS OR HER DESIGNEE DETERMINES THAT THERE IS A REASONABLE CAUSE TO BELIEVE THAT THE INCIDENT OCCURRED, HE OR SHE SHALL REPORT SUCH INCIDENT TO THE SUPERINTENDENT. WILLFUL FAILURE OF AN EMPLOYEE TO REPORT AN ACT OF BULLYING AS REQUIRED BY THIS SECTION SHALL BE A CLASS A MISDEMEANOR. ANY EMPLOYEE WHO REASON- ABLY AND IN GOOD FAITH MAKES A REPORT OF AN ACT OF BULLYING TO THE PRIN- CIPAL OR DESIGNEE THEREOF SHALL HAVE IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LIABILITY WHICH MIGHT OTHERWISE RESULT BY REASON OF SUCH ACTIONS; S 6. The education law is amended by adding a new section 2803 to read as follows: S 2803. BULLYING PROHIBITED. 1. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SECTION, THE TERM "BULLYING" SHALL MEAN THE SEVERE OR REPEATED USE BY ONE OR MORE STUDENTS OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEES OF A WRITTEN, VERBAL OR ELECTRONIC EXPRESSION, OR A PHYSICAL ACT OR GESTURE, OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF, DIRECTED AT A STUDENT THAT HAS THE EFFECT OF: (I) CAUSING PHYSICAL INJURY, SERIOUS PHYSICAL INJURY OR EMOTIONAL HARM TO THE STUDENT OR DAMAGE TO THE STUDENT'S PROPERTY; (II) PLACING THE STUDENT IN REASONABLE FEAR OF HARM TO HIMSELF OR HERSELF OR OF DAMAGE TO HIS OR HER PROPERTY; (III) CREAT- ING A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT AT SCHOOL FOR THE STUDENT; OR (IV) MATERIALLY AND SUBSTANTIALLY DISRUPTING THE EDUCATIONAL PROCESS OR THE ORDERLY OPERATION OF A SCHOOL. THE TERM BULLYING SHALL INCLUDE COMMUNICATIONS OR DISSEMINATION OF ANY MATERIAL THROUGH THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY OR ELECTRON- IC MEANS. 2. NO STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE SHALL SUBJECT ANY STUDENT OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR PUBLICLY FUNDED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM TO BULLYING AS DEFINED IN THIS SECTION. 3. ANY STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF SUBDIVI- SION TWO OF THIS SECTION IN A PUBLIC SCHOOL OR ON SCHOOL PROPERTY SHALL BE SUBJECT TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE DISTRICT'S CODE OF CONDUCT ADOPTED PURSUANT TO SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE AND THE APPLICABLE DISCIPLINE PROCEDURES. ANY STUDENT OR SCHOOL EMPLOYEE FOUND TO BE IN VIOLATION OF SUBDIVISION TWO OF THIS SECTION IN A PUBLICLY FUNDED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM SHALL BE SUBJECT TO DISCI- PLINE UNDER THE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES OF SUCH PROGRAM GOVERNING CONDUCT.S. 1253--B 3
4. NOTHING IN THIS SECTION SHALL APPLY, OR BE CONSTRUED TO APPLY, TO PRIVATE, RELIGIOUS OR DENOMINATIONAL EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS. NOR SHALL THIS SECTION PRECLUDE OR LIMIT, OR BE PERCEIVED TO PRECLUDE OR LIMIT, ANY RIGHT OR CAUSE OF ACTION PROVIDED UNDER ANY LOCAL, STATE OR FEDERAL ORDINANCE, LAW, RULE OR REGULATION. 5. A PLAIN-LANGUAGE, AGE-APPROPRIATE DESCRIPTION OF THE POLICIES OUTLINED IN SUBDIVISION TWO OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE SHALL BE DISTRIBUTED TO EMPLOYEES, STUDENTS AND PARENTS OF EACH PUBLIC SCHOOL OR PUBLICLY FUNDED SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAM ON AT LEAST AN ANNUAL BASIS. IN THE CASE OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SUCH REQUIREMENT SHALL BE MET BY INCLUDING SUCH DESCRIPTION IN THE SUMMARY OF THE CODE OF CONDUCT PROVIDED TO EACH STUDENT AND MAILED TO PARENTS PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION FOUR OF SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THIS ARTICLE. 6. THE PROVISIONS OF THIS SECTION SHALL BE SEVERABLE, AND IF ANY COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION DECLARES ANY PHRASE, CLAUSE, SENTENCE OR PROVISION OF THIS ARTICLE TO BE INVALID, OR ITS APPLICABILITY TO ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY, PERSON OR CIRCUMSTANCE, IS DECLARED INVALID, THE REMAINDER OF THIS ARTICLE AND ITS RELEVANT APPLICABILITY SHALL NOT BE AFFECTED. S 7. Section 3028-c of the education law, as added by chapter 181 of the laws of 2000, is amended to read as follows: S 3028-c. Protection of school employees who report acts of BULLYING OR violence and weapons possession. Any school employee having reason- able cause to suspect that a person has committed an act of BULLYING AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE OF THIS CHAP- TER OR violence while in or on school property, or having reasonable cause to suspect that a person has committed an act of BULLYING AS SUCH TERM IS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED THREE OF THIS CHAPTER OR violence upon a student, school employee or volunteer either upon school grounds or elsewhere, or having reasonable cause to suspect that a person has brought a gun, knife, bomb or other instrument capable of or that appears capable of causing death or physical injury upon school grounds who in good faith reports such information to school officials, to the commissioner, or to law enforcement authorities, shall have immu- nity from any civil liability that may arise from the making of such report, and no school district or school district employee shall take, request or cause a retaliatory action against any such employee who makes such report. S 8. The penal law is amended by adding a new section 240.33 to read as follows: S 240.33 AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PERSONNEL. A PERSON IS GUILTY OF AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PERSONNEL WHEN, WITH INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY OR ALARM A PERSON WHOM HE OR SHE KNOWS OR REASONABLY SHOULD KNOW TO BE A TEACHER, ADMINISTRATOR OR OTHER STAFF MEMBER OF A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE ELEMENTARY, INTERMEDIATE, JUNIOR HIGH, VOCATIONAL OR HIGH SCHOOL, ENGAGED IN THE COURSE OF HIS OR HER EMPLOYMENT, HE OR SHE STRIKES, SHOVES OR KICKS SUCH TEACHER, ADMIN- ISTRATOR OR OTHER STAFF MEMBER, AND WHEN SUCH CONDUCT TAKES PLACE ON SCHOOL PROPERTY AS DEFINED IN SECTION TWENTY-EIGHT HUNDRED ONE OF THE EDUCATION LAW WHERE SUCH TEACHER, ADMINISTRATOR OR OTHER STAFF MEMBER IS EMPLOYED OR ASSIGNED ON THE DATE OF SUCH CONDUCT. AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PERSONNEL IS A CLASS B MISDEMEANOR. S 9. This act shall take effect on the first of September next succeeding the date on which it shall have become a law.