Florida Senate looks to tackle cyberbullying
It's week two in the Florida Legislature, and for the Senate Education Committee that means a focus on school safety and security issues. (In case you didn't know it, the committee is taking up bills each week based on themes.)
One key area that committee chairman John Legg wants to shine a bright light on is cyberbullying. Bothered by recent stories in Pinellas and Pasco counties where school leaders could do essentially nothing to students who videotaped beatings of school mates and then posted them on the Internet, Legg has fast-tracked Democrat Sen. Dwight Bullard's anti-bullying bill that clearly defines "cyberbullying" and seeks to place it within the scope of principals' response.
"What frustrates me is the kids ... can just absolutely harass another student online from home and the kid goes back into the classroom and the principal can't do anything, because it's not happening on campus," said Legg, who founded and helps run a charter school.
He said the law should say if a student is causing a classroom disruption, even if it starts off-campus, if the school can document the bullying, it can suspend the student.
"All our attorneys are working on this," Legg said, acknowledging the hurdles could be significant. "They're looking at how can we link that together and give our principals more authority. At least we can get (bullies) off campus and say, our classrooms are going to be a safe environment thar are going to be harassment free."