Some lawmakers are raising concerns about the governor’s anti-bullying bill. House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican from Hiawatha, says the bill needs some work.
“It looks like it could be extremely difficult for schools to administer and we’re not interested in levying an unnecessary burden on school districts,” Paulsen says, “so we’re trying to work through and figure out that balance.”
The bill would make it clear school officials have the authority to discipline and even expell students for using social media to bully or harass other students. Paulsen says the bill is full of definitions and would force Iowa schools to rewrite a variety of policies.
“That bill just seems more complicated than it needs to be right now,” Paulsen says. “When you do that, you just make things more difficult on local school districts.”
Some say students’ free speech rights could be violated by overly aggressive school administrators cracking down on what students are saying on social media. Others say it’s the right of parents rather than schools to police what their own children are tweeting, texting and posting when they’re not on school grounds.
The governor’s anti-bullying bill has cleared a House committee, but hasn’t been discussed in the full House. If the bill doesn’t pass the House and then pass a committee in the Senate by April 5th, it will be dead for the year.