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Idaho legislators reject bill requiring principals to notify parents about bullying

The Idaho House of Representatives meet for a special session at the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho.
Keith Ridler
The Idaho House of Representatives meet for a special session at the Statehouse in Boise, Idaho.

The Idaho House on Monday rejected a bill that would have amended an existing law to require school principals notify parents and guardians of a student's involvement in harassment, intimidation, bullying, violence or self-harm.

House Bill 539 failed with a vote of 32-38.

Boise State Public Radio

"My city and my school district, and a school in my legislative district has experienced, as many of yours, a rash of suicides. We know that kids who are bullied tend to be a threat to themselves and to others," said Rep. Chris Mathias (D-Boise).

The Idaho Statesman reported there were four student suicides in less than two months in the Boise School District. The Ada County Coroner's Office as of December 2023, it has recorded eight juvenile suicides since August. In 2023, the Boise Police Department said it responded to five.

Mathias proposed Idaho school officials may be compelled to communicate with parents about bullying incidents.

"For each incident, it would bring us confidence that the districts were providing important pieces of information to all the parties involved: the bully, the bully's parents, the bullied, the bullied's parents. And specifically that they would be receiving, to quote from the bill, 'parental empowerment materials, including suicide prevention resources and information on methods to limit students access to means of harm to self and others.'"
Rep. Chris Mathias

The bill did have pushback from across the aisle, with Rep. Bruce Skaug (R-Nampa) saying he was concerned it was going to add more responsibility to the school district and the principal.

"The poor principal is going to get this 'Oh one more thing I have to report ... so and so was intimidated or harassed because he's a 49ers fan. Do I report this to the parents?'" said Skaug. "It's going to open things up for more lawsuits that will be successful, in my humble opinion."

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, 988 is the national number for the Suicide and Crisis Hotline. You can call or text the hotline 24/7 and there is an option to chat online.

Teen Line is a nonprofit that provides support and resources to young people through a hotline of professionally trained teen counselors. There are also outreach programs that de-stigmatize and normalize mental health. You can call 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. MT.

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