Senate File 406 - Introduced



                                       SENATE FILE       
                                       BY  COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENT
                                           OVERSIGHT

                                       (SUCCESSOR TO SSB 1308)


    Passed Senate, Date               Passed House,  Date             
    Vote:  Ayes        Nays           Vote:  Ayes        Nays         
                 Approved                            

                                      A BILL FOR

  1 An Act relating to the establishment of state and school
  2    antiharassment or antibullying policies, providing data
  3    collection and reporting requirements, and providing for
  4    immunity and other related matters.
  5 BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF IOWA:
  6 TLSB 1615SV 81
  7 kh/cf/24

PAG LIN



  1  1    Section 1.  Section 280.12, subsection 2, Code 2005, is
  1  2 amended by adding the following new paragraph:
  1  3    NEW PARAGRAPH.  f.  Harassment or bullying prevention
  1  4 goals, programs, training, and other initiatives.
  1  5    Sec. 2.  NEW SECTION.  280.28  HARASSMENT AND BULLYING
  1  6 PROHIBITED == POLICY == IMMUNITY.
  1  7    1.  PURPOSE == FINDINGS == POLICY.  The state of Iowa is
  1  8 committed to providing all students with a safe and civil
  1  9 school environment in which all members of the school
  1 10 community are treated with dignity and respect.  The general
  1 11 assembly finds that a safe and civil school environment is
  1 12 necessary for students to learn and achieve at high academic
  1 13 levels.  Harassing and bullying behavior can seriously disrupt
  1 14 the ability of school employees to maintain a safe and civil
  1 15 environment, and the ability of students to learn and succeed.
  1 16 Therefore, it is the policy of the state of Iowa that school
  1 17 employees, volunteers, and students in Iowa schools shall not
  1 18 engage in harassing or bullying behavior.
  1 19    2.  DEFINITIONS.  For purposes of this section, unless the
  1 20 context otherwise requires:
  1 21    a.  "Harassment" and "bullying" shall be construed to mean
  1 22 the same and mean any conduct toward a student that is based
  1 23 on any actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the
  1 24 student and that creates an objectively hostile school
  1 25 environment which meets any of the following conditions:
  1 26    (1)  Places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the
  1 27 student's person or property.
  1 28    (2)  Has a substantially detrimental effect on the
  1 29 student's physical or mental health.
  1 30    (3)  Has the effect of substantially interfering with a
  1 31 student's academic performance.
  1 32    (4)  Has the effect of substantially interfering with the
  1 33 student's ability to participate in or benefit from the
  1 34 services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
  1 35    b.  "Trait or characteristic of the student" includes, but
  2  1 is not limited to, age, color, creed, national origin, race,
  2  2 religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender
  2  3 identity, physical attributes, physical or mental ability or
  2  4 disability, ancestry, political party preference,
  2  5 socioeconomic status, or familial status.
  2  6    3.  POLICY.  On or before January 1, 2006, the board of
  2  7 directors of a school district and the authorities in charge
  2  8 of each accredited nonpublic school shall adopt a policy
  2  9 declaring harassment and bullying in schools, on school
  2 10 property, and at any school function, or school=sponsored
  2 11 activity regardless of its location, in a manner consistent
  2 12 with this section, as against state and school policy.  The
  2 13 board and the authorities shall make a copy of the policy
  2 14 available to all school employees, volunteers, students, and
  2 15 parents and shall take all appropriate steps to bring the
  2 16 policy against harassment and bullying, and the
  2 17 responsibilities set forth in the policy to the attention of
  2 18 school employees, volunteers, students, and parents.  Each
  2 19 policy shall, at a minimum, include all of the following
  2 20 components:
  2 21    a.  A statement declaring harassment and bullying to be
  2 22 against state and school policy.  The statement shall include,
  2 23 but not be limited to, the following provisions:
  2 24    (1)  School employees, volunteers, and students in school,
  2 25 on school property, or at any school function or school=
  2 26 sponsored activity shall not engage in harassing and bullying
  2 27 behavior.
  2 28    (2)  School employees, volunteers, and students shall not
  2 29 engage in reprisal, retaliation, or false accusation against a
  2 30 victim, witness, or an individual who has reliable information
  2 31 about such an act of harassment or bullying.
  2 32    b.  A definition of harassment and bullying that is no less
  2 33 inclusive than the definition set forth in this section.
  2 34    c.  A description of the type of behavior expected from
  2 35 school employees, volunteers, and students relative to
  3  1 prevention measures, reporting, and investigation of
  3  2 harassment or bullying.
  3  3    d.  The consequences and appropriate remedial action for a
  3  4 person who violates the harassment and bullying policy.
  3  5    e.  A procedure for reporting an act of harassment or
  3  6 bullying, including the identification by job title of the
  3  7 school official responsible for ensuring that the policy is
  3  8 implemented, and the identification of the person or persons
  3  9 to whom reports of harassment or bullying shall be submitted.
  3 10    f.  A procedure for the prompt investigation of complaints,
  3 11 either identifying the school principal, or the principal's
  3 12 designee as the individual responsible for conducting the
  3 13 investigation, including a statement that investigators will
  3 14 consider the totality of circumstances presented in
  3 15 determining whether conduct objectively constitutes harassment
  3 16 or bullying under this section.
  3 17    g.  A statement of the manner in which the policy will be
  3 18 publicized.
  3 19    4.  PROGRAMS ENCOURAGED.  The board of directors of a
  3 20 school district and the authorities in charge of each
  3 21 accredited nonpublic school are encouraged to establish
  3 22 programs designed to eliminate harassment and bullying in
  3 23 schools.  To the extent that funds are available for these
  3 24 purposes, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools
  3 25 shall do the following:
  3 26    a.  Provide training on harassment and bullying policies to
  3 27 school employees and volunteers who have significant contact
  3 28 with students.
  3 29    b.  Develop a process to provide school employees,
  3 30 volunteers, and students with the skills and knowledge to help
  3 31 reduce incidents of harassment and bullying.
  3 32    5.  IMMUNITY.  A school employee, volunteer, or student, or
  3 33 a student's parent or guardian, who promptly, reasonably, and
  3 34 in good faith reports an incident of harassment or bullying,
  3 35 in compliance with the procedures in the policy adopted
  4  1 pursuant to this section, to the appropriate school official
  4  2 designated by the school district or accredited nonpublic
  4  3 school, shall be immune from civil or criminal liability
  4  4 relating to such report, as well as for participating in any
  4  5 administrative or judicial proceeding resulting from or
  4  6 relating to the report.
  4  7    6.  COLLECTION REQUIREMENT.  The board of directors of a
  4  8 school district and the authorities in charge of each
  4  9 nonpublic school shall develop and maintain a system to
  4 10 collect harassment and bullying incidence data.
  4 11    7.  INTEGRATION OF POLICY AND REPORTING.  The board of
  4 12 directors of a school district and the authorities in charge
  4 13 of each nonpublic school shall integrate its antiharassment
  4 14 and antibullying policy into the comprehensive school
  4 15 improvement plan required under section 256.7, subsection 21,
  4 16 and shall report data collected under subsection 6, as
  4 17 specified by the department to the local community.
  4 18    8.  EXISTING REMEDIES NOT AFFECTED.  This section shall not
  4 19 be construed to preclude a victim from seeking administrative
  4 20 or legal remedies under any applicable provision of law.
  4 21    Sec. 3.  STATE MANDATE FUNDING SPECIFIED.  In accordance
  4 22 with section 25B.2, subsection 3, the state cost of requiring
  4 23 compliance with any state mandate included in this Act shall
  4 24 be paid by a school district from state school foundation aid
  4 25 received by the school district under section 257.16.  This
  4 26 specification of the payment of the state cost shall be deemed
  4 27 to meet all the state funding=related requirements of section
  4 28 25B.2, subsection 3, and no additional state funding shall be
  4 29 necessary for the full implementation of this Act by and
  4 30 enforcement of this Act against all affected school districts.
  4 31                           EXPLANATION
  4 32    This bill relates to harassment and bullying of elementary
  4 33 and secondary school students and establishes a state policy
  4 34 that school employees, volunteers, and students in Iowa
  4 35 schools shall not engage in harassing or bullying behavior.
  5  1    The bill adds to the list of school improvement advisory
  5  2 committee recommendation areas, that school districts and
  5  3 schools must consider the committees' recommendations
  5  4 regarding harassment or bullying prevention goals, programs,
  5  5 training, and other initiatives.
  5  6    The bill defines "harassment" and "bullying" to mean any
  5  7 conduct toward a student that is based on any actual or
  5  8 perceived trait or characteristic, which is also defined in
  5  9 the bill; creates an objectively hostile education
  5 10 environment; and meets any of the conditions specified in the
  5 11 bill.
  5 12    The bill requires school boards and accredited nonpublic
  5 13 schools to have a policy in place by January 1, 2006, that
  5 14 states that school employees, volunteers, and students shall
  5 15 not engage in harassing or bullying behavior.  The policy must
  5 16 be distributed to all concerned, define harassment and
  5 17 bullying, describe the behavior expected from all concerned,
  5 18 describe the consequences and appropriate remedial action for
  5 19 violation of the policy, include a procedure for reporting
  5 20 incidents, identify to whom reports shall be made, include a
  5 21 procedure for the prompt investigation of complaints, and list
  5 22 a range of sanctions and remedial actions that can be taken
  5 23 with regard to confirmed incidents.  The policy also must
  5 24 prohibit reprisal, retaliation, or false accusation against a
  5 25 victim, witness, or an individual who has reliable information
  5 26 about an act of harassment or bullying.
  5 27    The bill encourages school boards and schools to establish
  5 28 programs designed to eliminate harassment and bullying in
  5 29 schools, to provide training on harassment and bullying
  5 30 policies, and to develop a process to help reduce incidents of
  5 31 harassment and bullying.
  5 32    The bill provides immunity from civil or criminal liability
  5 33 to school employees, volunteers, and students and their
  5 34 parents who report an incident of harassment or bullying
  5 35 promptly, reasonably, and in good faith.  Existing
  6  1 administrative or legal remedies available to a victim are
  6  2 unaffected by the provisions of the bill.  The bill requires
  6  3 schools to integrate their policies into their comprehensive
  6  4 school improvement plans, which are submitted to the
  6  5 department, and requires that data collected for the plan be
  6  6 reported to the local community.
  6  7    The bill may include a state mandate as defined in Code
  6  8 section 25B.3.  The bill requires that the state cost of any
  6  9 state mandate included in the bill be paid by a school
  6 10 district from state school foundation aid received by the
  6 11 school district under Code section 257.16.  The specification
  6 12 is deemed to constitute state compliance with any state
  6 13 mandate funding=related requirements of Code section 25B.2.
  6 14 The inclusion of this specification is intended to reinstate
  6 15 the requirement of political subdivisions to comply with any
  6 16 state mandates included in the bill.
  6 17 LSB 1615SV 81
  6 18 kh:rj/cf/24