Sunday, January 13, 2013

Boise School Board to Take Up Bullying, Harassment Grievance Policy

Posted By on Sun, Jan 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Former Boise Democratic Sen. Nicole LeFavour stood before her then-colleagues of the Idaho Legislature in March 2012 and pleaded for their support of a measure thaat would codify anti-bullying efforts in Idaho public schools.

"We have reached a point in our state where harm is being done to young people," she said. "And we have an obligation to make our anti-bullying laws more effective."

A 2009 survey of Boise State freshman from Idaho high schools taken by the Safe Schools Coalition found that 87 percent of self-identified heterosexual students and 92 percent of self-identified LGBT students had witnessed bullying. Additionally, 36 percent of heterosexual students and 25 percent of LGBT students witnessed it often or very often.

But even though LeFavour's proposed legislation passed through the Idaho Senate, the bill died in the House a week later without even receiving a public hearing.

Members of the Boise School District Board of Trustees aren't going to wait for a repeated effort in the 2013 Idaho Legislature. Instead, Boise trustees will take up their own effort on Monday, Jan. 14, when they consider updates to the district's harrassment, bullying and civil rights grievance policies.

"Students have a right to feel safe and welcome when they are at school," said Monica Hopkins, executive director of ACLU Idaho. "We commend the Boise School District for strengthening their policies on bullying and harassment and addressing deficiencies in their civil rights grievance policy."

In particular, trustees will add language that "harassment, bullying, hazing and sexual harassment" when considering inappropriate behavior at school bus stops or on school buses. Additionally the district would create a simple reform to report such incidents.

ACLU Idaho said it had received a number of complaints from students "being harassed at school, but for fear of repercussions, most have been too afraid to disclose their identities in order to make formal complaints to their school districts, even in outrageous situations."

The Boise School Board of Trustees is set to meet on Monday evening, beginning at 6 p.m.

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