New approach to anti-bullying legislation being considered in Columbus

Both Ohio state senators agree bullies should have to do community service while keeping up with their schoolwork

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COLUMBUS (WKBN) – School districts are telling state lawmakers they haven’t done enough with bullying in Columbus.

According to State Senator Sandra Williams, a school counselor responsible for dealing with issues of bullying told her the legislature has tied schools hands regarding the matter.

That’s why Williams has introduced two bills into the State Senate that address the action and how to discipline it.

The first bill pushes to recognize that threats and verbal abuse are bullying. The second lays out a multi-tiered plan for disciplining students caught bullying.

The first offense is a warning, followed by peer mediation, then parent counseling and mandatory counseling. The fifth offense results in an in-school suspension, then an out-of-school suspension. Finally, the seventh offense would result in juvenile court and a 3rd-degree misdemeanor charge.

Ohio House of Representatives member Dave Greenspan, also from Cuyahoga County, has recently submitted his own comprehensive anti-bullying legislation.

Greenspan feels Williams’ multi-tiered approach to discipline gives bullies too many chances. According to him, dealing with bullies should be direct and forceful.

His bill creates an investigation when an accusation of bullying occurs that involves the school and the parents. He says this due process approach, which gives the bully an opportunity to appeal the findings of the investigation before discipline is met out, is absent in Williams’ bill.

Another difference between the bills is the mandatory counseling for the bully present in Williams’ bill, while Greenspan’s bill does not make such counseling mandatory.

His bill does offer counseling for the bully and victim, as well as require the bully to conduct community service and keep up with their homework while suspended.

Williams agrees with the latter two points — community service and maintaining education.

Despite the differences in the bills, they do seek to accomplish the same thing — address the issue schools have with how to discipline a child after bullying is discovered.

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