A new anti-bullying bill introduced in the legislature Thursday proposes to do everything from creating a legislative study committee on the issue to requiring schools to conduct annual surveys about student perceptions of the problem.
The measure, House Bill 11-1254, was introduced on a day that saw several education news developments, including committee approval of the concussion bill and defeat of a bill to give Colorado State University students and faculty voting seats on the system’s board. (See bottom of story for details on those.)
Here are some of the key provisions of the bullying bill:
- A legislative study committee would meet after the session adjourns in 2013 and make a report to the 2014 legislature.
- A bullying prevention grant program (to be funded by donations, not tax dollars) would be created in the Department of Education to give schools grants for anti-bullying programs.
- A School Bullying Prevention and Education Board would be created to administer the grant program and produce reports on its effectiveness.
- School districts would be required to keep records of confirmed bullying incidents and adopt anti-bullying policies.
- Individual schools would have to provide annual reports on incidents.
- Teachers would be required to take training on bullying prevention.
- Schools would have to conduct annual surveys of students on perceptions of bullying.
The bill also would apply to charter schools.
Reps. Kevin Priola, R- Brighton and Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, are the prime sponsors, along with Sen. Pat Steadman D-Denver.
The bill seems to be considerably more expansive that originally described by sponsors before the session, and it may raise eyebrows from school officials who’ve been hoping the 2011 legislature will reduce or streamline mandates on local schools districts rather than increase them.
The Senate’s largest hearing room was packed Thursday afternoon as the Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony on Senate Bill 11-040, the proposal that would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing the symptoms of concussions and also set standards for taking injured youths out of practices and games.
Before the hearing, supporters rallied at a well-attended Capitol news conference to promote the bill. Boosters included Kelli Jantz, the mother of a youth who died from a head injury, and former Denver Broncos Ed McCaffrey and Billy Thompson. The Brain Injury Alliance, The Children’s Hospital and several other medical organizations, plus the National Football League, are backing the bill. The NFL has been pushing similar legislation in states across the country.
The air of enthusiasm cooled a bit once the bill got to the committee. There was debate over whether athletic trainers should be added to the list of medical professionals who could clear an athlete to play after a concussion. (An amendment to do that was defeated.)
Conservative Republican Sens. Kevin Lundberg of Berthoud and Shawn Mitchell of Broomfield, who take a dim view of government mandates of any sort, questioned whether the bill is necessary but were on the losing side of a 7-2 vote to advance the bill.
The bill would require youth sports coaches to take training in recognizing concussion symptoms, require an athlete be removed from practice or a game if a coach suspects a concussion and also require such athletes be medically evaluated and have written clearance before returning to play. It applies only to sports involving middle and high school-age children. The bill proposes neither penalties nor reporting requirements to ensure compliance.
Senate prime sponsors are Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Linda Newall, D-Littleton.
Read more legislative news at Education News Colorado.
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