An anti-bully bill is expected to clear the Senate before the 2011 General Assembly session ends in mid-May.
House Bill 1254, a bill to reduce the frequency of bullying in public schools, cleared the House Representatives with bi-partisan support in March, and at deadline had already cleared the Senate Education Committee and was scheduled to be heard by the Appropriations Committee April 29.
The bill’s Senate sponsor, Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, said he was sure the bill would be passed.
“I don’t think there will be any problems passing the bill,” he said.
Democrats control the Senate 20-15.
Steadman, who chairs Appropriations, said he was working on amendments to clear up some language regarding how the new law would be applied to charter schools.
The openly gay senator said what is key now is lining up funding for grants the bill would establish.
“We need to make sure there are enough resources for schools to use,” he said.
If the bill becomes law it would redefine bullying and address cyber bullying. Bullying is defined as “any written or verbal expression or physical or electronic act or gesture or a pattern there-of that is intended to coerce, intimidate or harm one or more students.”
The bill calls for reporting of all incidents, institutions of conduct and discipline codes, and training for teachers and administrators in recognizing and preventing bullying.
A legislative task force would also be established to study bullying and creates a fund for schools to initiate bullying prevention.
One Colorado, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization lobbied for the bill. It’s executive director said he was pleased the Education Committee gave the bill initial approval.
“We applaud this decision by the Senate Education Committee to move this important bill forward,” Brad Clark said. “All students deserve to go to school free from fear, isolation and harassment. It’s our job as adults to ensure every student is protected and safe in our schools.”
In fall of 2010, One Colorado, the Colorado Association of School Boards, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the Colorado Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers – Colorado called on the state legislature to take immediate action to stop bullying in state schools.
The bill was sponsored by Reps. Kevin Priola, a Republican, and Sue Schafer, a Democrat and out-lesbian.