ST. PAUL, MINN. – After years of difficult struggle to strengthen Minnesota’s anti-bullying laws, the Senate voted on Thursday to pass the Safe and Supportive Schools Act by a 36 to 31 vote. Sen. John Hoffman is a co-author of the bill and celebrated the vote as a victory for all Minnesota school children.
“This yes vote is the culmination of years of hard work by anti-bullying advocates. Passing this law means Minnesota kids will have more protections in school from bullies, and teachers and administration will be provided with the tools they need to properly identify and stop bullying when they see it happen,” said Sen. Hoffman.
Up until the passage of this bill, Minnesota’s anti-bullying policy was just 37 words and fell woefully short of providing full protections for all kids. In 2012, Governor Dayton’s task force on the prevention of school bullying provided its recommendations after months of public testimony and deliberation. Last session, those recommendations were crafted into legislation and passed by the House, but the bill was tabled in the Senate at the end of session. Since then, stakeholders have worked for months to craft a bill that ensures a safe and supportive school environment for every student in Minnesota.
“The Safe and Supportive Schools Act has changed substantially since it was first introduced a year ago. This bill represents solid legislation that will make a positive difference in the lives of school children and will help create a tone in schools that is safe and conducive to learning,” said Sen. Hoffman.
Among its many protections, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act provides a more comprehensive definition of bullying, it requires districts to have a local policy to prevent student bullying as well as encourages districts to provide appropriate instruction for students and require strategies for creating a positive school climate. The bill also ensures the policy does not infringe on free speech or religious rights under the First Amendment.
Sen. Hoffman welcomes additional questions or comments; you can contact him at Sen.John.Hoffman@senate.mn or by calling his office at (651) 296-4154.