(Indiana Statehouse Newsroom) – Indiana lawmakers took a clear stance on bullying in schools on Monday.
The Indiana House of Representatives passed sweeping legislation that takes stronger aim at how bullying is reported statewide.
By a vote of 87-3 Monday morning, many lawmakers drew a line in the sand over bullying.
State Rep. Gregory Porter (D) said, “We can’t continue to put our head in the sand when it comes to bullying.”
By law, school districts are required to report bullying cases and many districts do, but State Rep. Porter said the reporting just isn’t good enough.
According to Department of Education data for the ’16-’17 school year, dozens of schools statewide reported zero bullying incidents.
Porter said, “There’s no way that’s going to happen. It happens every day, in every school. There’s some type of bullying.”
Porter said thinks there might be some school corporations who just aren’t reporting the incidents “because they think it may affect their report card or their funding.”
According to Porter, the bill isn’t mean to punish school districts, but rather to remind them what bullying is and to send information to schools stating that they must report bullying.
“Then, when the numbers come through, they would help school corporations rectify to see if the numbers are right,” said Porter.
Under his bill, the Department of Education would be able to audit school districts to make sure they were reporting bullying acurately.
State Rep. Tim Wesco (R) doesn’t agree with the bill. He’s one of three lawmakers who stood firm and voted against the measure.
“I think it’s important that we allow teachers and principals to focus on solving the problems and not always be enormously overloaded doing paperwork and filling out reports and all of that . That was the reason why I decided on that bill, that I wouldn’t support it,” said Wesco.
The bill now goes to the Indiana Senate for consideration.
Porter said his bill works in tandem with a proposal from Evansville State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R) that concerns bullying and cyberbullying.
McNamara’s bill passed the House last week and is now moving through the Senate.
(This story was originally published on Feb. 5, 2018)