Bad law on bullying

To the Editor:

A new statewide anti-bullying policy recently signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton could be problematic for local school districts.

Bullying should not be tolerated, and we all share the same goal of keeping our kids safe at school. But it also should not cost Fairmont and every other school in the area $32 per student to implement a statewide program.

The purpose of the bill is to define bullying. It would specifically ban bullying on the basis of sexual orientation, race or religion. It would apply to actions on school premises, at school functions, on school transportation or by use of school technology.

But the legislation is unnecessary because state law already requires every school in Minnesota to have an anti-bullying policy.

Under this new law, if your child is accused of bullying, it could go on their permanent record, and no parental notification is required.

The rights of parents and students are also not safeguarded with explicit language. Also problematic is that schools themselves are not required to notify parents when their child is accused of bullying or has been bullied.

Estimated costs to school districts through this unfunded mandate are projected to range between $20 to $25 million each year.

I believe a school district’s anti-bullying policy should be created by local officials. We’ve created a one-size-fits-all program here, and what might be effective in Minneapolis probably won’t be as workable in Fairmont or Jackson. This is a policy decision that should have been left in the hands of local school boards and administrators, teachers, and parents.

State Rep. Bob Gunther,