Governor Branstad, his wife and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds met with a group of students and administrators from Marshalltown schools today to talk about efforts to address bullying.
“I’m impressed with how this community has been so positive and proactive in saying, ‘Not in our town,'” Branstad said, “and how you are all working in a coordinated effort — the school district, the community college, the community.”
Branstad has proposed legislation in each of the past two years that would make it clear school officials have the authority to police bullying that occurs outside of school hours and off of the school grounds, but lawmakers have failed to pass the bill. Branstad vows to make adjustments and try to get a policy passed in 2015.
“We Iowans I think generally are very kind, neighborly people. We look out for each other,” Branstad said. “These are part of our core values, so it’s not always easy to acknowledge that bullying is taking place in our state, but it is and we need to recognize that and we need to deal with it.”
Some critics of giving schools authority to punish students for comments on social media have raised free speech concerns. Others say there hasn’t been enough money set aside to help schools train teachers in how best to deal with bullying — and some of Branstad’s fellow Republicans say it’s up to parents, not schools, to monitor the actions of their children outside of school.
(Reporting by Chuck Shockley, KFJB, Marshalltown; additional reporting by Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson)