Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention

Governor Branstad signed Executive Order 86 yesterday, establishing the Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention. The only copy of Executive Order 86 I can find today is oriented sideways, which makes it difficult to read, so I have uploaded a rotated copy here.

Below are the details of Executive Order 86, with comparisons to the provisions of the proposed Bully Free Iowa Act of 2015 (HSB 39). [Note that HSB 39 is currently numbered HF 490 and SF 345, but here, I just want to compare the bill as proposed by the Governor to Executive Order 86, as signed by the Governor.]

Executive Order 86 establishes the Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention (“the Office”) within the University of Northern Iowa’s Center for Violence Prevention (“the Center”).

Training

Ensure schools have access to training on establishing anti-bullying policies and conducting investigations of complaints pursuant to Iowa Code section 280.28.

HSB 39 would have required the director of the DE to ensure each district had adequate training, subject to appropriations of funds. HSB 39 would have appropriated $150,000 for training programs.

24-hour Hotline

Work with the Iowa DE and Iowa Department of Public Health to promote YourLifeIowa.org, an existing hotline.

Reporting Procedures

Work with the Iowa DE to develop a procedure for prompt notification of parents or guardians of the victims and alleged perpetrators in reported incidents of harassment of bullying.

HSB 39 would have required prompt notifications, but included an exception if a school official or a student who is a target of harassment or bullying reasonably believes notification would subject the targeted student to rejection, abuse, or neglect related to actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

As I recall, the notification provision was a point of contention in the Legislature. This puts the development of notification procedures with a non-elected body.

Cyberbullying

Develop guidelines promoting safety from cyberbullying and how to respond to bullying that takes place electronically and interferes with learning at school.

HSB 39 would have expanded the definition of “electronic” to include social networking sites “or any other electronic communication site, device, or means.” HSB 39 would also have granted school officials express authority to investigate and impose school discipline for alleged incidents of harassment or bullying that occurs outside of school, off of school property, or away from a school function or school-sponsored activity.

As I recall, authority off school grounds was another point of contention in the Legislature. Again, this puts development of guidelines in a non-elected body. Question: does this provide sufficient assurance to school officials that they won’t be held liable for exercising authority off school grounds, such that they would feel comfortable adopting and acting according to guidelines as developed by the Office?

Data Collection

Work with schools and the Iowa DE to address inconsistencies in school reporting of bullying and harassment data.

Varsity Interscholastic Athletic Participation

Convene a working group to propose administrative rules to the State Board of Education to allow students subjected to harassment or bullying to open enroll to a new district and immediately participate in varsity athletics.

HSB 39 had a similar provision that would have required a founded incident of harassment or bullying in the resident district, and agreement from both the resident district and the receiving district that the student should be permitted to participate immediately in varsity athletics.

Bullying and prevention student mentoring pilot program

Promote a student mentoring program to promote student leadership to prevent and respond to bullying and violence in schools, and to spread best practices for preventing bullying and violence for middle and high school students.

HSB 39 would have required the DE to establish a student mentoring pilot program, subject to appropriations. HSB 39 would have appropriated $50,000 for the pilot program.

Radio Iowa reports that UNI will pay the initial costs of the Office and that Governor Branstad will request additional funding for the Office from the Legislature.

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One thought on “Governor’s Office for Bullying Prevention

  1. Mary Starry

    Thanks for the comparison between the proposed and the actual. Lack of funding is a concern because a lot of great ideas and proposals can end up going nowhere because there is no money to pursue them.

    Reply

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