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Minn. Senate passes anti-bullying ‘Safe and Supportive Schools Act’

Friday, April 4, 2014
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ST. PAUL — The Minnesota state Senate voted Thursday to pass the “Safe and Supportive Schools Act,” a bill, which would require all Minnesota school districts to develop and enforce a plan to reduce bullying.

schoolsThe vote was 36-31, and followed an often contentious marathon debate.

The bill, as passed by the Senate, must now be reconciled with a House version passed last session before it heads to Gov. Mark Dayton for his signature.

The legislation faced considerable opposition from interest groups representing school superintendents, school board members and rural school districts, who alleged the state was delving too deep into school policies; right-wing conservative groups claimed that students could be labeled bullies for expressing religious views opposing LGBT equality.

Under the bill, all Minnesota public schools to adopt written policies on bullying prevention and designate a staff member to implement the policy.

School employees and volunteers would be trained to identify signs of bullying and be required to “make a reasonable effort to address and resolve the prohibited conduct.”

“(Children) should be able to expect to go to school feeling safe, feeling supportive; not having to make that trade off. We’ll see kids who are reluctant to go to school, or even staying away from school, or feeling like they have to switch schools, going to their own school and not having to worry about it,” said Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-Minneapolis), the measure’s sponsor, shortly before the vote.

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