INDIANAPOLIS – A new state law is adding regulations for how schools handle reports of bullying.
It’s an issue that’s top of mind for many parents, including Indiana PTA president Rachel Burke.
“I don’t really know of any parents who by the time their kids get to high school haven’t been affected in one way or another by either their kids being bullied or a close friend of their children being bullied,” Burke said.
When incidents occur, House Enrolled Act 1483 will require schools to notify parents of both the victim and alleged perpetrator within five business days.
Some school districts, like East Allen County Schools, already meet that time frame.
Doug Goeglein, district safety specialist, said he believes it’s a reasonable requirement that could encourage more people to come forward when something happens.
“If you feel that you might be the potential victim of bullying, just tell us,” Goeglein said.
State Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) has introduced the legislation for years. He believes the suicide of a bullied Covington student spurred legislators to act this year.
“The situation that really, I think, made a difference in getting this legislation passed was the Terry Badger III situation, which was so sad and so emotional,” Smith said.
Under the original bill, schools would have had to allow the victim to request themselves or the bully be transferred to another school in the district. That was made optional by state senators before the bill was signed into law.
Lawmakers may revisit the legislation in the future, Smith said.
“The main thing is we’ve gotten people sensitive to the fact that we must deal with this issue,” he said.
The legislation says schools must also allow parents the chance to review any bullying and suicide prevention materials provided to students.
The law takes effect on July 1.