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california legislation > AB 1156

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Date of Hearing: April 27, 2011

ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Julia Brownley, Chair
AB 1156 (Eng) - As Introduced: February 18, 2011

SUBJECT
: Pupils: bullying

SUMMARY : Makes several proposals related to bullying, including
requiring training in the prevention of bullying, authorizing a
pupil to transfer to another district and revising the
definition of bullying, beginning on July 1, 2012.
Specifically, this bill :

1)Makes declarations and findings regarding the impact of
bullying, including that bullying causes physical,
psychological and emotional harm to pupils; interferes with
pupils' ability to learn and participate in school activities;
and that bullying has been linked to other forms of antisocial
behavior, such as vandalism, shoplifting, truancy and dropping
out of school, fighting, using drugs and alcohol, sexual
harassment and sexual violence.

2)Specifies that training of schoolsite personnel in the
prevention of bullying shall be a component in the development
of school safety plans.

3)Specifies that a pupil is in compliance with the residency
requirements for school attendance in a school district if a
pupil whose residence is located within the boundaries of
another school district has been determined by personnel of
that other district to have been the victim of an act of
bullying committed by a pupil of that district.

4)Specifies that an act of bullying includes, but is not limited
to, harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical
violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, theft, public
humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for
asserting or alleging an act of bullying.

5)Specifies that "bullying" means any severe or pervasive
physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications
made in writing or electronically, and including one or more
acts committed by a pupil or group of pupils directed toward a
pupil or pupils that has or can be reasonably predicted to








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have the effect of one or more of the following:

a) Placing the pupil or pupils in reasonable fear of harm
to that pupil's or those pupils' person or property.

b) Causing a substantially detrimental effect on the
pupil's or pupils' physical or mental health.

c) Substantially interfering with the pupil's or pupils'
ability to participate in or benefit from the services,
activities, or privileges provided by a school.

EXISTING LAW :

1)Prohibits the suspension, or recommendation for expulsion, of
a pupil from school unless the principal determines that the
pupil has committed any of various specified acts, including
but not limited to bullying by means of an electronic act, as
defined.

2)Defines "bullying" as one or more acts by a pupil or group of
pupils engaging in sexual harassment, hate violence,
harassment, threats, or intimidation, including, but not
limited to, bullying committed by means of an electronic act.


3)Defines an "electronic act" as the transmission of a
communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text,
sound, or image by means of an electronic device, including,
but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other
wireless communication device, computer, or pager.

4)Expresses the intent of the Legislature that all California
public schools work with local law enforcement agencies,
community leaders, parents, pupils, teachers, administrators,
and other interested parties in the prevention of campus crime
and violence, and develop a comprehensive school safety plan.

5)Specifies that the schoolsite council or a school safety
planning committee is responsible for developing the
comprehensive school safety plan.

6)Specifies that the comprehensive school safety plan shall
include an assessment of the current status of school crime
committed on school campuses and at school-related functions








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and identification of appropriate strategies and programs that
will provide or maintain a high level of school safety and
address the school's procedures for complying with existing
laws related to school safety, including child abuse reporting
procedures; disaster procedures; an earthquake emergency
procedure system; policies regarding pupils who commit
specified acts that would lead to suspension or expulsion;
procedures to notify teachers of dangerous pupils; a
discrimination and harassment policy; the provisions of any
schoolwide dress code; procedures for safe ingress and egress
of pupils, parents, and school employees to and from school; a
safe and orderly environment conducive to learning; rules and
procedures on school discipline; and hate crime reporting
procedures.

7)Provides that a pupil complies with the residency requirement
for school attendance in a school district if he or she meets
specified conditions.

FISCAL EFFECT : Unknown

COMMENTS : School-based harassment, discrimination, intimidation
and bullying can create a school climate of fear and disrespect
that can result in conditions that negatively affect learning.
Bullying is defined as an act by a pupil engaging in sexual
harassment, hate violence, harassment, threats or intimidation
that may include bullying committed via an electronic act that
includes, but is not limited to, a message, text, sound, or
image by means of an electronic device (a telephone, wireless
telephone or other wireless communication device, computer or
pager).

The author states, "AB 1156 will address the issue of bullying
in a comprehensive and effective manner by requiring the
training of school site personnel in the prevention of bullying,
providing a mechanism under which the option is available for
the student who is the target of an act of bullying to be
removed from an unhealthy setting, and expanding the definition
of bullying by linking it to such impacts, as academic
achievement and participation. The goal is to provide a safe
environment designed to support a healthy learning experience
for every child."

Training in the prevention of bullying/school safety plan : This
bill has three components. Section 2 of the bill adds "training








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of schoolsite personnel in the prevention of bullying as a
component in the development of school safety plans". This
provision is unclear. Staff believes that the author intends to
require training of school staff in the prevention of bullying
and require school safety plans to include a component on the
prevention of bullying. Staff recommends moving the school
safety plan requirement to the Education Code (EC) Section
32282. Each schoolsite is required to develop a school safety
plan to assess the school climate and develop procedures in the
event of disasters or emergencies as well as other incidents
that create an unsafe environment, including procedures to
report hate crime. Adding procedures on the prevention of
bullying is consistent with the goals of the school safety plan.


According to the California Department of Education (CDE),
training on the prevention of bullying/cyber bullying is already
being done. Existing law requires the Department of Justice and
the CDE to contract with one or more professional trainers to
coordinate statewide workshops for local educational agency
staff to assist them in the development of the school safety
plan and crisis response plans. This provision is met through
funds from the School Safety Consolidated Competitive Grant.
The CDE contracts with Kern County Office of Education to
provide the trainings. In addition to bullying/cyberbullying,
the workshops also provide training on safe school planning and
crises response planning. Training on the prevention of
bullying, however, is currently permissive. By specifying the
training component to include bullying in the law, it will be a
required component of the training.

Transfer option : Federal law, under the Unsafe School Choice
Option established by the federal No Child Left Behind Act,
authorizes a student to transfer to a school within the district
if the student is a victim of a violent crime. Federal guidance
recommends consulting with local law enforcement agencies in
determining whether a student is a victim of a violent criminal
offense. Section 3 of the bill authorizes a pupil to be deemed
to meet residency requirements if the pupil transfers to a
school in another district based on a determination by personnel
of the district where s/he resides that the s/he had been a
victim of an act of bullying committed by a pupil from the home
district. The Committee may wish to consider whether the
criteria should be more specific. Questions raised by this
provision include: Should a district allow a transfer based on








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one incident? Should a transfer be based on severity of the
bullying? Will this bill result in numerous requests to
transfer to another district? Can this be used by parents as an
excuse to transfer their children to more desirable schools?
Should a pupil be allowed to transfer even if the bully has been
expelled? Should district administrators be given more
authority to determine whether a transfer is beneficial for the
student or be required to consult with a mental health
professional? Should a transfer be within a school district?
The language in the bill currently does not allow consideration
of these factors. If a pupil is determined to have been a
bullied, the pupil may request a transfer to another district.


Definition of bullying . The final proposal in this bill changes
the definition of bullying. EC Section 48900 specifies that a
pupil shall not be suspended or recommended for an expulsion,
unless the superintendent or the principal of the school
determines that the pupil has committed specified acts,
including:

"(r) Engaged in an act of bullying, including, but not limited
to, bullying committed by means of an electronic act, as defined
in subdivisions (f) and (g) of Section 32261, directed
specifically toward a pupil or school personnel."

Subdivision (r) requires a review of another section (32261(f)
and (g)) to determine the actual definition of bullying. That
section then references back to the suspension/expulsion section
of law, as follows: "bullying" means one or more acts by a
pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2, 48900.3,
or 48900.4.

EC sections 48900.2 specifies that a student may be suspended or
recommended for expulsion if the pupil has been determined to
have committed sexual harassment, 48900.3 refers to incidences
of hate violence and 48900.4 relates to engagement in
harassment, threats or intimidation, "directed against school
district personnel or pupils, that is sufficiently severe or
pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect of
materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder,
and invading the rights of either school personnel or pupils by
creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment."

As shown above, the definition of bullying is based on








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references to several sections in the EC and could be clearer.
This bill redefines the bullying as:

1)including, but not limited to, harassment, threats,
intimidation, stalking, physical violence, sexual harassment,
sexual violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of
property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of
bullying.

2)meaning any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or
conduct, including communications made in writing or
electronically, and including one or more acts committed by a
pupil or group of pupils as defined in Section 48900.2 (sexual
harassment), 48900.3 (hate violence) or 48900.4 (harassment,
threats, or intimidation), directed toward a pupil or pupils
that has or can be reasonably predicted to have the effect of
one or more of the following:

a) Placing the pupil or pupils in reasonable fear of harm
to that pupil's or those pupils' person or property.

b) Causing a substantially detrimental effect on the
pupil's or pupils' physical or mental health.

c) Substantially interfering with the pupil's or pupils'
ability to participate in or benefit from the services,
activities, or privileges provided by a school.

While attempting to clarify the definition of bullying, the two
paragraphs proposed by this bill may continue to cause confusion
as one paragraph references other sections (similar to existing
law) and the other paragraph incorporates the acts referenced by
the other sections that are considered bullying, while also
including actions that are not included in the existing
definition of bullying (e.g., stalking, theft, destruction of
property). If the Committee chooses to adopt this definition of
bullying, staff recommends striking (r)(1) in the bill and
making conforming amendments by deleting the current definition
of "bullying" in Section 32261(f) and transferring the
definition of "electronic act" to Section 48900.

The definition proposed by this bill differs from existing law
by specifying that the conduct must be "severe" or "pervasive"
and that has or "can be reasonably predicted" to have specified
effects, including causing physical or mental harm or








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interfering with a pupil's ability to participate in school
activities. This definition creates a higher threshold for
suspension/expulsion due to bullying. The Committee may wish to
consider whether bullying is only bullying when there is a
physical or psychological impact on the victim. For example, if
a student harasses another student, should that act of
harassment alone be considered an act of bullying, even if there
is no physical or psychological effect on the victim? Under
current law, that act of harassment can be considered bullying.


There are a number of bills dealing with bullying this year,
with more than one bill affecting suspension/expulsion due to an
act of bullying. In addition to this bill, SB 453 (Correa),
which is scheduled for the April 27, 2011 Senate Education
Committee hearing, expands authorization to suspend or expel a
pupil for acts of bullying to include those acts motivated by
any of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the
victim: disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity,
religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or
group with one or more of these actual or perceived
characteristics. SB 453 also includes acts of bullying that
have persisted and reoccurred despite repeated efforts at
remediation and termination of the behavior by the principal or
the superintendent of schools on the list of acts for which
expulsion may be recommended.

The CDE recommends the definition of bullying to parallel
definition that is supported by the International Bullying
Prevention Association as follows: "An act of bullying" is
defined as a type of aggression, either verbal, physical, or
psychological. The bullying behavior is intended to harm or
disturb the target/victim, and is carried out repeatedly and
over time. An act of bullying reflects an imbalance of power,
either physical or psychological. Bullying can be direct, in
the form of physical acts, threats, intimidation, verbal abuse,
or taunting; an act of bullying can also be indirect, in the
form of making faces, making obscene gestures, exclusion, or
spreading of rumors. The definition in this bill, while not
identical, is fairly consistent with this definition.

Arguments in Support . According to the author, "the current
definitions contained within anti-bullying policies do not
reflect the psychological damaging effects and/or academic
performance implications recognized by research. The scope of








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most anti-bullying policies, limit the definition of bullying as
physical aggression and verbal and/or written aggression.
Persistent bullying can severely inhibit a student's ability to
learn effectively or a member of the staff's ability to do their
job. A recent study by UCLA psychologists finds that
"instruction cannot be effective unless the students are ready
to learn, and that includes not being fearful of raising your
hand in class and speaking up." Hence, it is important that the
definition of bullying address the non-physical impacts it has
on a student who is the target of bullying, because the negative
effects of bullying can have an impact on a person for their
entire life."

Related legislation . AB 9 (Ammiano), pending in the Assembly
Appropriations Committee, requires school districts to have
policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment, intimidation,
and bullying and a process for submitting and investigating
complaints of such acts, encourages school districts to offer
professional development to address discrimination, harassment,
intimidation, and bullying, and authorizes principals and
superintendents to institute alternative discipline strategies
for pupils subject to suspension or expulsion, as specified.

AB 630 (Hueso) encourages school districts to establish programs
to be integrated either into the regular curriculum or through
separate instruction during National Bullying Prevention Month
for a minimum of one class period each day, or a minimum of five
hours, at the discretion of each school district, to reduce
bullying through training with appropriate activities and best
practices. AB 630 is also scheduled for today's Committee
hearing.

AB 746 (Campos), pending in the Senate, specifies that bullying
by means of an electronic act includes a post on a social
network Internet Web site.

SB 453 (Correa), pending in the Senate Education Committee,
expands authorization of suspension or expulsion for acts of
bullying to include those acts motivated by any of the following
actual or perceived characteristics of the victim: disability,
gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual
orientation, or association with a person or group with one or
more of these actual or perceived characteristics, and includes
acts of bullying that have persisted and reoccurred despite
repeated efforts at remediation and termination of the behavior








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by the principal or the superintendent of schools on the list of
acts for which expulsion may be recommended.

REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION :

Support

California State PTA (sponsor)
Asian and Pacific Islanders CA Action Network
California Federation of Teachers
California School Employees Association
California Teachers Association
National Association of Social Workers
PeaceBuilders
An individual

Opposition

None on file

Analysis Prepared by
: Sophia Kwong Kim / ED. / (916) 319-2087