Anti-Bullying Bill Would Require Idaho Teachers To Intervene

Feb 25, 2015

Idaho teachers would receive training in how to deal with bullies and be expected to intervene under a bipartisan bill in the state legislature.
Credit Diego Grez / Wikimedia

A bipartisan bill in the Idaho Legislature would train teachers to deal with bullying and require them to intervene when they see it happen.

Boise Democratic Rep. Ilana Rubel said it’s not an issue of niceness. She said it’s an educational issue -- because bullying makes kids less engaged with school.

“And as news spread of this bill, I was contacted by hundreds of parents across the state who felt desperately that we needed to act in this regard,” Rubel said.

The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Patrick McDonald, R-Boise. In addition to teacher training, it would require districts to have policies on counseling and punishing bullies and designate a point-person for reports.

The House Education Committee agreed to introduce the measure, but Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls, worried about the legal repercussions if parents later feel bullying led to their child’s suicide.

“And the parents come to the school and said you should have intervened, you were ‘expected’ to intervene and we’re going to sue you, we’re going to sue the teacher,” Clow said.

Rubel said teachers are legally “well insulated” from personal liability. She argued schools are already open to litigation and taking measures to reduce bullying would reduce the likelihood of getting sued.

Lawmakers also worried one provision would make all cases of bullying an infraction.

Both Oregon and Washington already have anti-bullying laws in place.

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