Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walle's HB 195 Would Weaken Current Anti-Bullying Laws

Rep. Armando Walle (D-Harris County) has filed HB 195 which would prevent school administrators from expelling students or placing them in alternative education programs unless the behavior they are being punished for is both serious and persistent.

Current Law (the Safe Schools sub-chapter of the Texas Education Code) requires school districts to create student codes of conduct and permits schools to discipline students who violate those codes. It allows school administrators to expel or place in an alternative education program students who violate the code in either a serious or persistent manner.

HB 195 goes through the existing law and changes all instances of "serious or persistent" to "serious and persistent". Under the proposed changes school administrators would not be able to remove students from school who committed only one serious violation of the code of conduct, or who committed multiple minor violations.

What makes this proposed change particularly bizarre is that the current law is permissive. It says that school administrators "may" expel or place in alternative education programs students who violate the code of conduct. This allows for administrative discretion and ensures an individual response to individual student's behavior.

This bill is unnecessary, irresponsible and would weaken one of the few tools administrators currently have to fight bullying.

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