An anti-bullying bill for public schools touted as a way to address the issue without spelling out protections for certain students passed the state Senate Education Committee Thursday afternoon.
The proposal, a substitute for Senate Bill 709, next faces action on the Senate floor.
State Sen. Rick Ward III, D-Port Allen and sponsor of the measure, said he started looking into the issue after the suicide of a student in Pointe Coupee Parish, which is in his senatorial district.
Ward said his plan would spell out what constitutes bullying, inform students and parents of the consequences of bullying, detail how allegations of bullying are to be handled and what school officials are required to do.
Aides to Gov. Bobby Jindal helped write the bill, which is also backed by the Louisiana Family Forum.
Gene Mills, executive director of the LFF, called the measure a way to address “unbecoming conduct” without advancing any political agenda.
Critics complained that the 18-page substitute bill was released as the committee meeting began, without allowing enough time to digest details of the legislation.
State Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge, tried to delay action on the bill for one week.
Claitor’s motion failed 1-4.
The committee then approved the proposal without objection.
Jennifer Curry, president elect of the Louisiana School Counselors Association, questioned parts of the bill, including a provision that would allow a student to transfer if school officials failed to act on four complaints of bullying. “I just think that looking at this more in depth is needed,” Curry said.