Monday, January 10, 2011

Bullies and Bus Stops – More Highlights from Prefiled Bills

Two bills related to bullying have been introduced. The first, HB 1575 (Dels. Englin and Ebbin) provides a detailed definition of bullying, harassment, and intimidation and requires training for all instructional personnel on bullying, harassment, and intimidation prevention. It also requires that the bullying, harassment, or intimidation of any student be reported to the division superintendent and it requires that school boards include in the code of student conduct procedures to separate the perpetrator (i.e. bully) from the victim in a way that does not punish the victim. The second bill, HB 1576, also introduced by Delegates Englin and Ebbin, makes certain acts of bullying (defined more narrowly than HB 1575) a crime. The definition of bullying in this bill specifically includes bullying through the use of "information or communication technology," also know as cyberbullying.

Virginia Code § 18.2-370.5 prohibits violent sex offenders from, among other things, being on school property during school hours or during school-related and school-sponsored activities. A bill has been introduced (HB 1523 - Del. Landes) to extend that prohibition to any property, public or private, that is being used solely for a school-related or school-sponsored activity and to school bus stops, when children are waiting to be picked up or are being dropped off. Speaking of school bus stops, another bill has been introduced (HB 1596 – Del. Iaquinto) to extend "gang free zones" to include school bus stops during the time that students are waiting to be picked up or are being dropped off. The bill also adds public parks, libraries and hospitals to the list of "gang free zones." Similar legislation that also included community centers and recreation centers was introduced last year. (HB 682) That bill ultimately passed (Ch. 346), but not before it was amended to remove school bus stops, parks, parks, libraries, and hospitals from the list of gang free zones.