Surrounded by students, parents, teachers, and school administrators, Governor Mark Dayton today signed the Safe and Supportive Schools Act (HF826/SF783). The new law, authored by state Sen. Scott Dibble and state Rep. Jim Davnie, strengthens protections against the threat of bullying in Minnesota schools. The new measure provides local school districts the guidance, support, and flexibility to adopt clear and enforceable school policies to help protect all children from bullying, and to reinforce the principles of tolerance and respect in our schools.
"Minnesota's schools should be safe and supportive places for everyone," said Governor Mark Dayton. "This anti-bullying legislation will make it very clear that bullying is not to be allowed in our schools. I thank Senator Dibble, Representative Davnie, Commissioners Cassellius and Lindsey, and the many parents, students, teachers and advocates, who worked tirelessly to write and pass this law."
The Safe and Supportive Schools Act puts the following measures in state law to help protect Minnesota children from the threat of bullying:
No young person should be forced to choose between going to school or being safe. But today, far too many are put in that position," said Sen. Dibble, who authored the bill in the Senate. "Many of those students courageously stepped forward to share the pain of their experiences and to ask us to do better. Many more continue to feel isolated, afraid and despairing. Today we are able to answer them, and thanks to the amazing work of those students, parents, educators and health care professionals, Minnesota schools will be safer, healthier environments for all kids.
Locally-Implemented School Policies - The Act directs public and charter schools to adopt local policies to prevent and prohibit school bullying. School districts will also have the option to adopt anti-bullying policy language drafted by the state.
Defines Bullying - The Act clearly defines what behaviors, and patterns of behaviors, should be considered bullying in Minnesota schools - including online forms of bullying through social media.
Helps Train Teachers and Staff - The Act designates a staff member at each school to monitor and investigate reports of bullying behavior. It also provides regular training and professional development for teachers and staff to identify and prevent bullying behavior.
Provides Support for Schools - The Act creates a School Safety Technical Assistance Center at the Minnesota Department of Education to help schools with training for teachers and staff, gather data on bullying in Minnesota schools, review best practices, and help school districts develop and implement anti-bullying policies at the local level.
Since 2011, the Dayton Administration and members of the Minnesota Legislature have been working to assess the threats and challenges posed by school bullying, and develop legislation to strengthen bullying protections for Minnesota children. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act is the result of those efforts.
This new law will empower students, parents, teachers, and administrators to create safe and supportive schools for all Minnesota kids," said Rep. Davnie, who authored the bill in the House. "That will create an environment where more students can achieve, and more students graduate from high school."
The Safe and Supportive Schools Act includes the recommendations of the Governor's Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying
- a group of Minnesota parents, community members, health care professionals, education experts, school administrators, and policymakers convened by Governor Dayton in 2011 to develop legislative solutions to prevent bullying in our schools. The Act is supported by more than 100 advocacy groups across Minnesota, including: Minnesota Parent Teacher Association; Minnesota Association of School Administrators; Minnesota Elementary and Secondary School Principals Association; Association of Metropolitan School Districts; School Nurse Association of Minnesota; Minnesota School Counselors Association; Education Minnesota; and more.