Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is putting the smack down on bullies in Minnesota schools, starting in the 2014-15 school year.
On Wednesday, Governor Dayton signed a new anti-bullying law that will ensure districts across the state have consistent anti-bullying policies.
“It’s not only to provide the kind of academic excellence our young people are going to need, it’s to provide the kind of emotional, maturational experiences and guidance that they’re going to need to be successful in their lives, to be successful in this society, to be successful in this world,” Dayton said.
The law will also require every staff member, in every school district in Minnesota, to go through instructional training on how to spot bullying, stop it and report it, before the start of the 2014-15 school year.
“This really puts much better clarity on what bullying is and isn’t, “ said Northfield Superintendent Chris Richardson, “it’s more workable than the original plan.”
“Bullying is not isolated, it’s a repetitive act,” said Richardson, “its a real or perceived imbalance of power (between the bullier and the victim.)”
According to Richardson, it’s likely much of the training will take place during teacher workshops prior to the start of the school year next fall.
The additional training will take up time and of course, have a cost. The specifics of time and cost are yet to be determined, though.
“The training will help get everyone on the same page,” Richardson said.
The only place where the lines may blur are cases of cyber bullying, which don’t necessarily take place in the school, making it harder to chose a disciplinary path, explained Richardson.
Also new is that each school will require a staff member to be appointed as the go-to person for reported incidents of bullying. In Northfield, this appointed member will likely be a member of the administration.
The law will require districts to take action within three days of a reported incident, as well as keep records of every incident for future use, in order to provide the appropriate consequence.
According to Richardson, this shouldn’t be a problem in Northfield schools, as records are already kept of these incidents and timely actions is taken.
“We’re providing a safe environment right now,” he said.
Molly Larsen covers the education beat for the Northfield News. Reach her at 645-1115. Follow her on Twitter @ReporterMolly.