Illinois Human Rights Commission endorses proposed legislation requiring statewide model bullying prevention policy

The Illinois Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has unanimously endorsed HB 5290, legislation proposed by Rep. Kelly Cassidy that would build on the Illinois School Violence Act and call on the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to develop a template for a statewide model bullying prevention policy, reports the Aledo Times Records. The Commission also voted to join the Prevent School Violence Illinois Coalition. IHRC Commission Chairman Martin R. Castro said, “The Illinois Human Rights Commission commends Rep. Cassidy for her leadership in this area and we also stand ready to collaborate with and support the many committed leaders and organizations in the Prevent School Violence Illinois Coalition.”

Prevent School Violence Illinois (PSVI) is a coalition of individuals, associations, governments agencies, youth service groups, and policy organizations, who are concerned with school violence. Its membership includes the Illinois Department of Human Rights, the Illinois Safe School Alliance and the ACLU of Illinois among numerous partners. Illinois became the ninth state in the nation to enact stringent anti-bullying laws when Governor Quinn signed the Illinois Prevent School Violence Act (SB3266) into law on June 27, 2010. PSVI originally came together in order to support the legislation, designed to provide school districts with tools to prevent and address bullying.

PSVI now supports the work of the School Bullying Prevention Task Force which was created by the Illinois Prevent School Violence Act. The Task Force is charged with exploring the causes and consequences of bullying in Illinois schools, and evaluating the effectiveness of existing anti-bullying policies and prevention programs.

HB 5290 would require schools across the state and ISBE to implement aggressive new anti-bullying and anti-cyber-bullying measures in the 2013-2014 school year. It would also require schools to regularly update their anti-bullying policies, and to collect data on bullying incidents.

Source:  Aledo Times Record, 2/28/12, By Staff

[Editor's Note: The proposed Illinois anti-bullying provisions would supplement an existing law first enacted in 2006 and most recently amended in 2010. Illinois' anti-bullying law applies not only to public school districts, but also to "non-sectarian" private schools.   

The text of HB 5290 adds to the existing law  the requirement that a school district's bullying policy must be based on the state template and include certain provisions:

(d) Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, each Each school district and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school shall create and administer maintain a policy on bullying, which policy must be filed with the State Board of Education. The policy on bullying shall be based on the State Board of Education's template for a model bullying prevention policy and shall include criteria set forth in components (1) through (9) of subsection (c-5) of this Section. The policy shall be integrated within the school districts' curricula, discipline policies, conflict resolution education, anti-bias education, and any other violence prevention efforts, including, but not limited to, social and emotional learning standards and response to intervention plans as defined by administrative rule of the State Board of Education. Each school district and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school shall comply with its bullying prevention policy. The policy must be updated every 2 years and filed with the State Board of Education after being updated. The State Board of Education shall monitor and provide technical support for the development and implementation of policies created under this subsection (d).

In June 2010, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Courier-News reporting that the Illinois General Assembly had passed the anti-bullying measure described above. Legal Clips noted that the language passed by the Illinois legislature supplemented existing requirements that Illinois school districts have bullying policies in place, provided a more detailed definition of "bullying," and expanded the reach of the statute to "non-public, non-sectarian elementary and secondary school."]

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