A Watch-dog Organization - Advocating for Bullied Children
& Reporting on State Anti Bullying Laws
Note from a parent - April 5, 2006: Dear Brenda, Let me start by saying that I think what you are doing is GREAT. I am a 34 year old mother of two daughters. My oldest daughter as well as myself have been victims of bullying. As a result of unenforced anti bullying laws my daughter is now attending a private school that will cost me at least a thousand dollars. Having an anti bullying law is great but if the school does not take it seriously then like in my daughters case it is not worth the paper it is written on. The bullies at my daughters school have also found a way around the rules when they are enforced. Two or more girls would gang up on my daughter and call her names and tease her. Then go to the principle and say my daughter bullied them. So you can see the problem. I have had my daughter in two schools in Arkansas and in the first school she was punched repeatedly in the arm and pinched until she had a bruise the size of a half dollar. Now, if she were the kind to bully or fight she would have hit that girl. In any event please do not think that just because a (state) school has a bullying law that they deserve an A. Thank you, Wendy H.
Comments noted - Grades only reflect what is on paper. Enforcement is another matter. ~Brenda
2003 ARKANSAS ACT 681, HB 2274Requires school districts to adopt policies to prevent student harassment and bullying. Policies must define bullying, prohibit bullying on school property, at school-sponsored activities and on school buses and state the consequences of engaging in bullying behavior. Also requires school employees to report incidents of bullying to the school principal and provides for immunity from tort liability for those who report but fail to remedy the incident. Requires the policy to be clearly communicated and available, reviewed by the State Board of Education and filed with the State Department of Education. Also adds bully prevention programs to the list of student services provided by school guidance counselors.
6-18-514. Antibullying policies.
(a) The school board of directors in every school district shall adopt policies to prevent pupil harassment, also known as bullying.
(b) The policies shall:
(1) Clearly define conduct that constitutes bullying;
(2) Prohibit bullying while on school property, at school-sponsored activities, and on school buses;
(3) State the consequences for engaging in the prohibited conduct, which may vary depending on the age or grade of the student involved;
(4) Require that a school employee who has witnessed or has reliable information that a pupil has been a victim of bullying as defined by the district shall report the incident to the principal;
(5) Require that notice of what constitutes bullying, that bullying is prohibited, and the consequences of engaging in bullying be conspicuously posted in every classroom, cafeteria, restroom, gymnasium, auditorium, and school bus in the district; and
(6) Require that copies of the notice of what constitutes bullying, that bullying is prohibited, and the consequences of engaging in bullying be provided to parents, students, school volunteers, and employees. Each policy shall require that a full copy of the policy be made available upon request.
(c) A school employee who has reported violations under the school district's policy shall be immune from any tort liability that may arise from the failure to remedy the reported incident.
(d) The local school board may provide opportunities for school employees to participate in programs or other activities designed to develop the knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to acts covered by this policy.
(e)(1) The school district shall file with the Department of Education a copy of the policies adopted in compliance with this section.
(2) The State Board of Education shall review the policies provided by the school districts and may recommend changes or improvements to the districts if the board determines that the policies need improvement.
History. Acts 2003, No. 681, § 1.
6-18-1005. Student services program defined.
(a) A "student services program" is defined as a coordinated effort which shall include, but is not limited to:
(1) Guidance and counseling services, which shall include, but are not limited to:
(A) The availability of individual and group counseling to all students;
(B) Orientation programs for new students at each level of education and for transferring students;
(C) Academic advisement for class selection;
(D) Consultation with parents, faculty, and out-of-school agencies concerning student problems and needs;
(E) Utilization of student records and files;
(F) Interpretation of standardized testing and dissemination of results to the school community;
(G) The following up of early school dropouts and graduates;
(H) A school-initiated system of parental involvement;
(I) An organized system of informational resources on which to base educational and vocational decision making;
(J) Educational and career guidance, including advising students on the availability of vocational and alternative programs that could provide successful high school completion opportunities for students at risk of dropping out of school;
(K) Coordinating administration of the Test for Adult Basic Education or the General Educational Development pretest to students by designating appropriate personnel, other than the school guidance counselor, to administer the tests; and
(L) Classroom guidance which shall be limited to thirty-minute class sessions, not to exceed three (3) per day or ten (10) per week;
(2) Psychological services, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Evaluation of students with learning or adjustment problems;
(B) Evaluation of students in exceptional child education programs;
(C) Consultation and counseling with parents, students, and school personnel;
(D) A system for the early identification of learning potential and factors which affect the child's educational performance;
(E) A system of liaison and referrals, with resources available outside the school; and
(F) Written policies which assure ethical procedures in psychological activities;
(3) Visiting teacher and school social work services, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Providing casework to assist in the prevention and remediation of problems of attendance, behavior, adjustment, and learning; and
(B) Serving as liaison between the home and school by making home visits and referring students and parents to appropriate school and community agencies for assistance;
(4) Occupational services, which shall include, but are not limited to, the dissemination of career education information, and follow-up studies;
(5) Group conflict resolution services, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Educational and social programs that help students develop skills enabling them to resolve differences and conflicts between groups;
(B) Programs designed to promote understanding, positive communication, and a greater utilization of a race relations specialist or human relations specialist to assist in the development of intergroup skills; and
(C) Programs designed to prevent bullying.
(6) Health services, which shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(A) Students with special health care needs, including the chronically ill, medically fragile, and technology-dependent, and students with other health impairments shall have an individualized health care plan.
(B) Invasive medical procedures required by students and provided at the school shall be performed by trained, licensed personnel who are licensed to perform the task subject to § 17-87-102(2)(D) or other professional licensure statutes. The regular classroom teacher shall not perform these tasks.
(C) Custodial health care services required by students under an individualized health care plan shall be provided by trained school employees other than the regular classroom teachers; and
(7) The distribution of a suicide prevention public awareness program developed for distribution by the interprogram task force established by the Lieutenant Governor's Teenage Suicide Prevention Task Force.
(b) School counselors shall spend at least seventy-five percent (75%) of work time each week providing direct counseling related to students and shall devote no more than twenty-five percent (25%) of work time each week to administrative activities provided that the activities relate to the provision of guidance services.
History. Acts 1991, No. 908, §§ 3, 6; 1997, No. 1275, § 2; 1999, No. 1565, § 1; 2003, No. 681, § 2.
For a Reader's Information
BELOW I've added an interesting post - Thought I'd pass it on (~Brenda)
Home Schoolers Lose Ground with New Law
The enactment of House Bill 1724 on April 5, 1999, gives Arkansas the unique distinction of becoming the first state in the nation to add restrictions to its existing home school law. Sponsored by Representative Jim Magnus (R-55), a home schooling father from Little Rock, the new law, among other things, establishes notification deadlines and imposes a 14-day waiting period before parents are allowed to withdraw their children from public school to begin home schooling mid-semester.
Why Was H.B. 1724 Introduced?
The public school lobby had been working overtime to convince the Arkansas legislature that the home school law was too permissive. Their efforts paid off and home schoolers were informed by unfriendly legislators that the home school law was going to be changed. In an effort to forestall unbearably hostile and restrictive legislation, the home school leaders decided to introduce their own bill.
Home School Legal Defense Association opposes any effort to increase state regulation of home education and did not support H.B. 1724. However, not satisfied with the restrictions imposed by H.B. 1724, some legislators introduced two other freedom-grabbing plans—H.B. 2037 and Senate Bill 631.
Introduced by Representatives Jerry Allison (D-86), Jimmy Jeffress (D-83), and Mike Hathorn (D-24), H.B. 2037 would have required parents to provide notice to the superintendent at least 14 days prior to the beginning of the semester for which they intended to begin home schooling. After the start of a semester, parents could begin home schooling only if their child was failing, he had a serious medical condition, or they had documented safety concerns. The superintendent or school board could waive the notice requirements. In addition, no public school student under disciplinary action could begin home schooling unless the superintendent or school board permitted it, the semester ended, or the student was expelled.
Home school parents would have had to provide an annual report to the public school superintendent by June 30 evidencing compliance with a laundry list of new requirements: parent possession of a high school diploma or GED certificate; 180-day minimum instructional year; instruction provided in required subjects; educational records of subjects and activities; and a portfolio of the student’s work.
S. B. 631, introduced by Senator Jodie Mahony (D-2) of El Dorado, required parents to provide two notices of intent to home school each year to the local superintendent—the first by August 15 for the upcoming fall semester and the second by December 15 for the upcoming spring semester. Exceptions would only be allowed for academic failure, serious medical conditions, documented safety concerns, or a decision to home school within the first 14 calendar days of a semester. The superintendent or the school board could waive the 14-day notification requirement.
Clearly oppressive and unreasonable, H.B. 2037 and S.B. 631 were stopped at the committee level because of the outspoken opposition of those attending the legislative hearings.
What Did the Previous Law Require?
Originally enacted in 1985 under then-Governor Bill Clinton, Arkansas’ home school law recognized the right of parents to teach their children at home, but imposed considerable restrictions, especially for special education. In 1997, due largely to the efforts of Governor Mike Huckabee, Arkansas revised the law creating a much more favorable environment for home educators.
The 1997 law required parents to provide written notice to the local superintendent of their intent to provide a home school at the beginning of each school year or at the time during the school year that the parent withdrew the child from public school.
Now, just two years later, home school freedom in Arkansas has taken a step backwards and parents find themselves burdened by some of the same restrictions as before.
What Are the Requirements Under the New Law?
Now known as Act 1117, the H.B. 1724 law becomes effective 90 days after it was signed by Governor Huckabee on April 5, 1999. Therefore, it will begin to apply to home schooling families at the beginning of the 1999–2000 school year. The new restrictions placed on home schooling families under Act 1117 are as follows:
(1) Notice of intent must be given no later than August 15 by parents beginning home schooling in the fall semester or by December 15 for those beginning in the spring semester.
(2) Parents deciding to begin home schooling after the start of a semester are permitted to do so by providing the notice of intent 14 days prior to withdrawing the child from public school and each year thereafter at the beginning of the school year. The superintendent or the local school board may waive the 14-day waiting period.
(3) A public school student who is currently under disciplinary action for violation of any school policy is not eligible to begin home schooling unless (a) the superintendent or local school board chooses to allow the student to enroll in a home school, (b) the disciplinary action against the student has been completed or the school semester ends, whichever occurs first, or (c) the student has been expelled from public school.
Arkansas is now one of only 12 states to impose a deadline for beginning home schooling or requiring parents to provide advance notice to public school officials of their decision to do so. Because of this restriction, parents who encounter intolerable conditions at the public school, such as imminent danger to the safety or welfare of their child, will have to wait at least 14 days before withdrawing the child to begin home schooling or else face truancy charges for unexcused absences during the 14-day waiting period. No such restriction exists for parents who decide to immediately remove their children to attend a private or parochial school in Arkansas. This raises serious issues regarding the right of parents to direct the education of their children and equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
In addition, Arkansas is now the only state in the nation with a law prohibiting a student from beginning home schooling if the student is in the midst of disciplinary proceedings at the public school. Legislators enacted this change despite the fact that legal tools for dealing with disciplinary problems were already available to public school officials in the form of the Arkansas School Discipline Act, the Dismissal Act, and truancy provisions for students with unexcused absences. No public school student could escape disciplinary action by beginning to home school under prior law, yet legislators were willing to grant additional control to public school officials over the time when parents are permitted to begin home instruction. No such restriction exists for parents who decide to transfer their children to a private or parochial school, again raising serious constitutional questions.
Another discriminatory provision in H.B. 1724 states that any home schooling student who refuses to participate in the state testing program shall be subject to prosecution for truancy. Public school students refusing to participate in state testing would not be subject to truancy prosecution.
Prior law required parents moving into the state mid-school year to provide a written notice of intent to the local superintendent within 30 days. The new law requires parents to provide a written notice upon moving into a different school district during the school year, even though notice was given in their former district.
The new law also makes a minor change in the previous requirement that a parent sign a waiver releasing the State of Arkansas from any future liability for education of a child in a home school. It now provides that the waiver signed by the parent must acknowledge that the State of Arkansas “is not liable for the education of their child during the time that parent chooses to home school.” State officials apparently believe that the state is liable for the education of children during the time they are enrolled in public school. Presumably, any child not receiving an adequate education as a public school student could seek redress from the state.
Compulsory Attendance Age Change Enacted
Signed into law by Governor Huckabee on March 15, 1999, H.B. 1197 makes any child who is five years of age on or before September 15 subject to the compulsory attendance law. However, parents may opt their children out of kindergarten if (1) the child will not be six years old by September 15 and (2) the parent files a signed kindergarten waiver form with the local school district. Prior law applied compulsory attendance requirements to children who were five years old by September 1.
Thank you to Spunky of the Spunky Homeschooler for bringing this to my attention. Since many parents who have children being bullied choose to homeschool their children (or child), this blog is an important post for this page.
Bully Police E-Book
STOP THE BULLYING!
Part III - E-Book
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