Synopsis: This law is
weak on Community involvement and only "encourages" programs to deal with
bullying, but, there is a a cyberbullying component and a very strong reporting
and data requirement. There are no provisions for counseling victims
of bullying. Overall, a good law - graded an A-
Senate File 61
RELATING TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF STATE AND SCHOOL ANTI HARASSMENT AND
ANTI BULLYING POLICIES, PROVIDING DATA COLLECTION AND REPORTING REQUIREMENTS,
AND PROVIDING FOR IMMUNITY AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS.
Section 1. Section 280.12, subsection 2, Code 2007, is
amended by adding the following new paragraph:
NEW PARAGRAPH. f. Harassment or bullying prevention
goals, programs, training, and other initiatives.
Section 2. NEW SECTION. 280.28 HARASSMENT
AND BULLYING PROHIBITED == POLICY == IMMUNITY.
1. PURPOSE == FINDINGS == POLICY. The state
of Iowa is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school
environment in which all members of the school community are treated with
dignity and respect. The general assembly finds that a safe and civil
school environment is necessary for students to learn and achieve at high
academic levels. Harassing and bullying behavior can seriously disrupt
the ability of school employees to maintain a safe and civil environment,
and the ability of students to learn and succeed. Therefore, it is
the policy of the state of Iowa that school employees, volunteers, and
students in Iowa schools shall not engage in harassing or bullying behavior.
2. DEFINITIONS. For purposes of this section, unless
the context otherwise requires:
a. "Electronic" means any communication
involving the transmission of information by wire, radio, optical cable,
electromagnetic, or other similar means. "Electronic" includes but
is not limited to communication via electronic mail, internet=based communications,
pager service, cell phones, and electronic text messaging.
b. "Harassment" and "bullying" shall
be construed to mean any electronic, written, verbal, or physical act or
conduct toward a student which is based on any actual or perceived trait
or characteristic of the student and which creates an objectively hostile
school environment that meets one or more of the following conditions:
the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student's person or property.
a substantially detrimental effect on the student's physical or mental
the effect of substantially interfering with a student's academic performance.
the effect of substantially interfering with the student's ability to participate
in or benefit from the services, activities, or
privileges provided by a school.
c. "Trait or characteristic of the student"
includes but is not limited to age, color, creed, national origin, race,
religion, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, physical
attributes, physical or mental ability or disability, ancestry, political
party preference, political belief, socioeconomic status, or familial status.
d. "Volunteer" means an individual who
has regular, significant contact with students.
3. POLICY. On or before September 1, 2007, the board
of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of each
accredited nonpublic school shall adopt a policy declaring harassment and
bullying in schools, on school property, and at any school function, or
school=sponsored activity regardless of its location, in a manner consistent
with this section, as against state and school policy. The board
and the authorities shall make a copy of the policy available to all school
employees, volunteers, students, and parents or guardians and shall take
all appropriate steps to bring the policy against harassment and bullying
and the responsibilities set forth in the policy to the attention of school
employees, volunteers, students, and parents or guardians. Each policy
shall, at a minimum, include all of the following components:
a. A statement declaring harassment
and bullying to be against state and school policy. The statement
shall include but not be limited to the following provisions:
employees, volunteers, and students in school, on school property, or at
any school function or school=sponsored activity shall not engage in harassing
and bullying behavior.
employees, volunteers, and students shall not engage in reprisal, retaliation,
or false accusation against a victim, witness, or an individual who has
reliable information about such an act of harassment or bullying.
b. A definition of harassment and bullying
as set forth in this section.
c. A description of the type of behavior
expected from school employees, volunteers, parents or guardians, and students
relative to prevention measures, reporting, and investigation of harassment
d. The consequences and appropriate
remedial action for a person who violates the antiharassment and antibullying
e. A procedure for reporting an act
of harassment or bullying, including the identification by job title of
the school official responsible for ensuring that the policy is implemented,
and the identification of the person or persons responsible for receiving
reports of harassment or bullying.
f. A procedure for the prompt investigation
of complaints, either identifying the school superintendent or the superintendent's
designee as the individual responsible for conducting the investigation,
including a statement that investigators will consider the totality of
circumstances presented in determining whether conduct objectively constitutes
harassment or bullying under this section.
g. A statement of the manner in which
the policy will be publicized.
4. PROGRAMS ENCOURAGED. The board of directors of
a school district and the authorities in charge of each accredited nonpublic
school are encouraged to establish programs designed to eliminate harassment
and bullying in schools. To the extent that funds are available for
these purposes, school districts and accredited nonpublic schools shall
do the following:
a. Provide training on antiharassment
and antibullying policies to school employees and volunteers who have significant
contact with students.
b. Develop a process to provide school
employees, volunteers, and students with the skills and knowledge to help
reduce incidents of harassment and bullying.
5. IMMUNITY. A school employee, volunteer, or student,
or a student's parent or guardian who promptly, reasonably, and in good
faith reports an incident of harassment or bullying, in compliance with
the procedures in the policy adopted pursuant to this section, to the appropriate
school official designated by the school district or accredited nonpublic
school, shall be immune from civil or criminal liability relating to such
report and to participation in any administrative or judicial proceeding
resulting from or relating to the report.
6. COLLECTION REQUIREMENT. The board of directors
of a school district and the authorities in charge of each nonpublic school
shall develop and maintain a system to collect harassment and bullying
7. INTEGRATION OF POLICY AND REPORTING. The board
of directors of a school district and the authorities in charge of each
nonpublic school shall integrate its antiharassment and antibullying policy
into the comprehensive school improvement plan required under section 256.7,
subsection 21, and shall report data collected under subsection 6, as specified
by the department, to the local community.
8. EXISTING REMEDIES NOT AFFECTED. This section shall
not be construed to preclude a victim from seeking administrative or legal
remedies under any applicable provision of law.
John P. Kibbie - President of the Senate
Patrick J. Murphy - Speaker of the House
Michael E. Marshall - Secretary of the Senate
Approved March 2007
Signed by Chester J. Culver, Governor, March 6, 2007
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