The Texas anti-bully bill passed last year will take effect this fall, requiring schools to implement policies on reporting, preventing and punishing bullying in all its forms, including cyber bullying. An option of removing bullies from the classroom or school instead of transferring the victim is another aspect of the bill.
Equality Texas Deputy Executive Deputy Chuck Smith spoke with KUT News (audio above) about how the organization lobbied for the bill to prevent situations like the one involving Flour Bluff ISD student Ted Molina, who left his high school after years of ridicule and racial slurs in March. He committed suicide April 1.
Molina’s parents have blamed the school for ignoring the bullying and have hired an attorney. Flour Bluff ISD board President released a letter Thursday addressing Molina’s suicide and assuring students and parents that the school district has “always taken student safety very seriously and are continuing their efforts to provide a safe learning environment.”
Flour Bluff High School administrators have added a staff member to its counseling office in addition to holding several meetings with students to prevent bullying and address student concerns, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports.
Smith said the bill will force schools to create effective measures for changing bullying before another incident happens.
From KUT News:
“At this point in time, I sort of describe the Flour Bluff ISD as how not to deal with bullying and harassment in public schools,” says Chuck Smith of gay-rights group Equality Texas.
After lobbying for the new anti-bullying law with Equality Texas, Smith is happy that staff will be have required training on how to stop bullying when they see it. There are new staff procedures for reporting and investigating bullying. And a major provision in the new law allows the bully to be relocated to other classrooms or campuses. Smith says he thinks this is a good idea.
“It just provides an additional option,” Smith says. “If it’s in the best interests of the children for safety reasons for them to be separated, it gives them the option of having the victim not be the only child who might be moved.”