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california legislation > AB 1156

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SENATE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
Alan Lowenthal, Chair
2011-12 Regular Session


BILL NO: AB 1156
AUTHOR: Eng
AMENDED: May 27, 2011
FISCAL COMM: Yes HEARING DATE: June 29, 2011
URGENCY: No CONSULTANT:Beth Graybill

SUBJECT : Pupils: Bullying.

SUMMARY

This bill revises the existing definition of bullying,
requires training in the prevention of bullying, and
authorizes a pupil who has been a victim of bullying to
transfer to another district.

BACKGROUND

Existing law prohibits the suspension or the recommendation
of a pupil for expulsion from school unless a school district
superintendent or the principal of the school determines that
the pupil has committed certain specified acts, including
having engaged in an act of bullying. Existing law defines
bullying to include an act of sexual harassment or hate
violence, threats or intimidation directed against a pupil or
school personnel, or bullying committed by electronic means,
as specified. (Education Code 48900, et seq.)

Existing law defines bullying by means of 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.
(EC 32261)

Existing law, the Interagency School Safety Demonstration Act
of 1985, establishes the School/Law Enforcement Partnership
comprised of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI)
and the Attorney General for the development and
administration of safe school programs. (EC 32260 et.
seq.)




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Existing law requires each school district and county office
of education to be responsible for the overall development of
all comprehensive school safety plans for its schools.
School safety plans must be evaluated annually and must
include (1) an assessment of the current status of school
crime committed on school campuses and at school-related
functions and (2) identification of appropriate strategies
and programs that will provide or maintain a high level of
school safety and detail procedures for complying with
existing laws; disaster procedures; policies regarding
suspension or expulsion; a discrimination and harassment
policy; and, a safe and orderly environment conducive to
learning. (Education Code 32281 and 32282)

Existing law requires the California Department of Education
(CDE) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to contract with
one or more professional trainers to coordinate statewide
workshops for local educational agencies (LEAs) and
schoolsite personnel to assist them in the development of
their respective school safety plans. According to the CDE,
the Kern County Superintendent of Schools (KCSS) was awarded
a $350,000 contract to perform this training and is scheduled
to conduct 28 trainings on bullying prevention in 2011. (EC
32283)

ANALYSIS

This bill :

1) Makes findings and declarations regarding the necessity
of a safe and civil school environment for effective
learning, the impact of bullying and the need to
accommodate pupils who have been the victim of bullying.


2) Encourages school safety plans, as they are updated and
to the extent that resources are available, to include
policies and procedures aimed at the prevention of
bullying.

3) Requires the professional trainers conducting statewide
training workshops to assist local educational agencies
to develop their school safety plans to provide training
in the prevention of bullying, as defined.

4) Specifies a pupil complies with school district
residency requirements in a school district if his or



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her residence is located within the boundaries of
another district but the pupil meets all of the
following conditions:

a) He or she has been determined by the
superintendent of that other school district or the
principal of the school attended in that other
district to have been the victim of an act of
bullying committed by a pupil of the other
district.

b) He or she is unable to transfer to another
school within the other school district, as
certified by the superintendent of the other
district.

c) He or she is unable to receive authorization
for interdistrict attendance in a timely manner.

5) Defines bullying to mean any severe or pervasive
physical or verbal act or conduct, including
communications made in writing or by means of an
electronic act, and including one or more acts committed
by a pupil or group of pupils directed toward one or
more pupils that can be reasonably predicted to have the
effect of one or more of the following:

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

b) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a
substantially detrimental effect on his or her
physical or mental health.

c) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience
substantial interference with his or her academic
performance.

d) Causing a reasonable pupil to experience
substantial interference with his or her ability to
participate in or benefit from the services,
activities, or privileges provided by a school.

6) Moves the following definition of "electronic act" from
Section 32261 to Section 48900 of the Education Code:




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

STAFF COMMENTS

1) Need for the bill : A publication from the U.S.
Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and
Delinquency Programs (OJJDP) notes that bullying can
have short-term and long-term psychological effects on
both those who bully and those who are bullied.
Long-term consequences have been linked to increases in
criminal behavior and substance abuse, and a number of
recent teen and youth suicides have been traced to
bullying activities, including those perpetrated by an
electronic act or the use of social networks to post
harassing, malicious, and intentionally harmful
messages. A 2001 report by the National Institute of
Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) estimated
that 1.6 million children in grades 6 through 10 in the
United States are bullied at least once a week and 1.7
million bully others frequently.

A 2007 report from the National Association of Attorneys
General Task Force on School and Campus Safety noted
that bullying is an important issue in examining school
violence and recommended states continue to implement
and expand bullying prevention measures. The report
stated "Bullying was recognized as an important issue in
examining school violence. The growth in the use of
technology and social networking sites by younger
Americans has fueled a fear among professionals that
cyber bullying will become the means most often utilized
to harass, threaten, or otherwise cause distress."

2) Only pupils ? Current law provides that a pupil may be
suspended from school or recommended for expulsion for
bullying directed toward a pupil or school personnel.
This bill removes the term school personnel from the
provision, although provisions allowing for suspension
or expulsion in cases of intentional harassment,
threats, or intimidation directed against school
district personnel would remain.




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3) Cyberbullying . This Committee has considered a number
of bills concerning bullying and cyberbullying,
including AB 746 (Campos), which would specify that
bullying by means of an electronic act includes posts on
social network Internet Web sites such as Facebook. To
be consistent with Committee action on that measure,
staff recommends amendments that would incorporate
social network posts into the "electronic act" paragraph
of subdivision (r) of 48900.

4) Related and prior legislation .

SB 453 (Correa) expands the definition of bullying to include
acts motivated by specified actual or perceived
characteristics of the victim, adds bullying, as
specified, to the list of acts for which expulsion may
be recommended, and requires school safety plans to
include policies and procedures relating to bullying.
This measure was passed by this Committee on a 7-0 vote.


SB 755 (Lieu) makes numerous changes to the requirement that
each school have a school safety plan, imposes new
penalties for schools and districts that fail to meet
these requirements, and requires school districts and
county offices of education to be responsible for the
development of school safety plans, as specified. This
bill was passed by this Committee on a 7-2 vote.

SB 919 (Lieu) defines sexting as the sending or receiving of
sexually explicit pictures or video images via an
electronic act and adds sexting to the list of acts for
which a pupil may be suspended or expelled. This bill
was passed by this Committee on a 10-0 vote.

AB 227 (Hall) adds the prevention of cyberbullying to the
components that are required to be included in existing
guidelines and criteria for developing school district
educational technology plans. This measure is pending
before this Committee.

AB 630 (Hueso), a two-year bill in the Assembly Education
Committee, encourages school districts to reduce
bullying through programs that would educate pupils by
increasing their awareness of bullying.

AB 746 (Campos), specifies that bullying by means of an



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electronic act includes a post on a social network
Internet Web site. This measure was passed by this
Committee on a 9-1 vote.

AB 86 (Lieu, Chapter 646, 2008) defined bullying to mean acts
that are committed personally or electronically, acts
directed against another pupil that constitutes sexual
harassment, hate violence, severe or pervasive
intentional harassment, threats, or intimidation and
gave school officials grounds to suspend a pupil or
recommend a pupil for expulsion for bullying. This bill
was passed by this Committee on a 7-2 vote.




SUPPORT

Asian and Pacific Islanders Action Network
California Council of Community Mental Health Agencies
California Federation of Teachers
California School Employees Association
California State PTA
California Teachers Association
Mental Health Association in California
National Organization for Women
The Arc and United Cerebral Palsy in California

OPPOSITION

American Civil Liberties Union