Committee approves anti-bullying, hazing bill

Staff reports

COLUMBUS — The Ohio House of Representatives Education and Career Readiness Committee has approved legislation designed to prevent school place bullying.

House Bill 360, also known as the Ohio Anti-Bullying and Hazing Act, strengthens consequences for bullying in public schools, a pervasive problem in today’s society. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Dave Greenspan (R-Westlake), preserves local control regarding bullying by providing complete autonomy for public schools to address and respond to the first reported offense of bullying towards a student. If bullying persists, then the provisions of the Ohio Anti-Bullying and Hazing Act shall be enacted.

The bill prescribes that a student identified as a bully will serve a suspension, the term of which is based on the number of reported cases and severity of the bullying, and is at the discretion of the district. During the period of suspension the district:

May require the student to participate in a community service program

May provide tutoring and academic support

May offer counseling services

May impose other provisions as determined by the district

Shall allow the student to take all academic state assessments

Shall prohibit the student from participating in extracurricular activities

The bill also provides for the district to offer to the victim of bullying:

Tutoring and academic support

Counseling services

The bill applies to public school students in fourth through 12th grades only, and exempts students with developmental disabilities.

“I have been working diligently on this legislation and appreciate everyone’s support and contribution throughout this process,” Greenspan says. “This is an issue I am passionate about, and I feel strongly that this is one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-hazing bills in the country. As comprehensive as this bill is, it still allows for local control and is very permissive to give schools the flexibility they need.”

House Bill 360 now awaits referral to the floor to be heard by the full House.

Staff reports