The Texas legislature has passed a law (SB 179) that adds to the rules on harassment, bullying and cyberbullying of a public school student or minor.
Starting September 1, 2017, notice of alleged bullying must be given to the parent of the target student on or before the third business day after the incident is reported. The alleged bully’s parent is to be notified within a “reasonable time.”
Chapter 37 is amended to allow for expulsion or DAEP for a student who 1) engages in bullying that encourages suicide; 2) incites violence through group bullying; or 3) releases or threatens to release “intimate visual material” of a minor or an adult student without consent.
The Texas Education Code defines bullying as an expression of conduct which the school board determines:
(1) Will physically harm a student, damage a student’s property, or put a student in reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or property; or
(2) Is sufficiently “severe, persistent, or pervasive” that the action or threat creates an “intimidating, threatening, or abusive” educational environment for a student.
The Texas legislature has enacted laws that adults may rely on when a student reports being the victim of bullying. Students should know the importance of reporting bullying or threats to a teacher or other adult as soon as possible.
1. The statistics – Students with disabilities are much more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.
Although only 10 U.S. studies have been conducted on the connection between bullying and developmental disabilities, all of these studies found that children with disabilities were two to three times more likely to be bullied than their nondisabled peers.
2. The impact – Bullying affects a student’s ability to learn.
Many students with disabilities are already addressing challenges in the academic environment. When they are bullied, it can directly impact their education.
Bullying is not a harmless rite of childhood that everyone experiences. Research shows that bullying can negatively impact a child’s access to education and lead to:
- school avoidance and higher rates of absenteeism
- decrease in grades
- inability to concentrate
- loss of interest in academic achievement
- increase in dropout rates
Texas laws require schools and school administrators to take actions to prevent bullying and to investigate reports of bullying. The law breaks bullying into 3 components:
Conduct: Physical conduct that occurs at school, a school function, or in a school vehicle. – Written, verbal or electronic expression.;
Motivation: Bullying involves exploiting an imbalance of power. – Exploit: “to use selfishly for one’s ends.” – Exploitation involves intentional conduct.;
Effect: The conduct must either 1) interfere with the student’s education; or 2) substantially disrupt the operation of the school.