Public School Anti-Bullying Compliance Report Released In DE - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Public School Anti-Bullying Compliance Report Released In DE

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DELAWARE – Delaware Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Deputy Attorney General Patricia Dailey Lewis presented "Unfinished Business: Implementation by Delaware Public Schools of the State's 2012 Anti-Bullying Laws" today.

According to reports, the report is the first issued since the General Assembly passed two new laws related to bullying in the state's public schools in 2012. The laws include Senate Bill 193 (cyberbullying) and House Bill 268 (reporting). The anti-bullying effort was reportedly spearheaded jointly by Lt. Governor Matt Denn and Attorney General Beau Biden, aimed to improve on existing laws created to protect every student. 

The cyberbullying regulation reportedly provided a detailed definition of cyberbullying, made clear that schools could punish cyberbullying that originated outside school property, and provided a list of social media sites where posts would be considered cyberbullying if they otherwise met the regulation's definition.  Officials say the regulation required schools to notify students and parents/guardians at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year of the cyberbullying policy itself and of social media sites where posts would be considered to have been publicly posted. According to the new report, public school districts, with few exceptions, have complied with the provisions of the state's new cyberbullying laws and regulations.  However, the majority of charter schools are not yet in compliance.

House Bill 268 reportedly made a number of changes to the state's bullying law. Among the changes, it reportedly required that schools report all reported incidents of bullying to the state Department of Education, both substantiated and unsubstantiated, and required the Department of Education to randomly audit schools each year to ensure that reports required to be made to the state and to parents were being made.  According to the new report, there was significant variation in the diligence with which schools make reports to the parents of victims and perpetrators in bullying incidents.

"I was very disappointed to see the number of schools that aren't in compliance," says Dr. Terri Hodges, President of Delaware PTA. "There definitely needs to be more accountability."

The report also reportedly found the most prevalent reported causes of bullying in Delaware public schools are students' physical appearance, student disability, and student gender identity.

"We have a real concern about that," says Lt. Governor Matt Denn. "There are some students who seem to be getting singled out and that's a tougher thing in terms of creating a culture in the schools where it is not OK to single out those kids."

Lt. Governor Denn says they do not plan to take any legal action on schools who were not in full compliance, because they feel that making the report public should be enough for schools to make the changes. They also reportedly plan to issue yearly reports in the future as well.

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