California enacts anti-bullying law

The Lodi News-Sentinel reports that Governor Jerry Brown has signed an anti-bullying bill  into law that will create an anti-bullying system at all California schools.  The bill, known as “Seth’s Law,” requires school districts to institute anti-harassment policies and an online complaint procedure, with shorter timelines for investigating claims of bullying. Seth’s Law was authored by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano and co-sponsored by such groups as Equality California, ACLU of California, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

Rebekah Orr, communications director for Equality California, said  the new law will help protect students from destructive bullying and intimidation. The bullying of gay and lesbian students, and others who may be questioning their sexual orientation, “has often gone unnoticed by teachers and administrators until the problem becomes quite severe,” Orr said. Even before the bill was signed into law, local schools have been increasing anti-bullying efforts with presentations, assemblies and workshops.

The governor also signed AB 620, which requests that state colleges and universities include policies on harassment and bullying in their rules of student conduct. Further, an employee at each campus should be designated as a point of contact to address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender faculty, staff and students. “It’s not as though bullying stops once a person gets a high school diploma and goes on to college,” Orr said.

Source: Lodi News-Sentinel, 10/14/11, By Steven Mayer (Bakersfield Californian)

[Editor's Note: In September 2011, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Cape May County Herald that published a press release from New Jersey Attorney General Paula T. Dow.  The attorney general announced the distribution of a new agreement to be executed by school districts and law enforcement agencies throughout New Jersey in order to establish enhanced policies and procedures to protect students from bullying.

The revised Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials was drafted to meet the provisions of New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (ABBRA), enacted in January 2011. The ABBRA sets forth standards for preventing, reporting, investigating and responding to incidents involving bullying of students. The revised MOA provides for coordination of efforts between law enforcement and school officials, particularly in cases involving conduct that may constitute a crime or disorderly persons offense under state law.]

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