Supt. Juneau and Sen. Gillan Statement on the Failure of Anti-Bullying Bill
Monday, February 14, 2011
By Allyson Hagen
Statement of Superintendent Denise Juneau and Senator Kim Gillan on the
Failure of Anti-Bullying Bill in the Senate Education Committee
Today, Sen. Kim Gillan's proposal, SB 141, the Schools Are For Education (SAFE) Act failed to pass out of the Senate Education committee on a vote of 4 – 6.
The SAFE Act would have established common definitions and procedures for anti-bullying policies for all school districts. These policies were to be considered during accreditation review.
"I find it ironic that this body passed a bill that would prevent hunters from being bullied nearly unanimously, but when it came to protecting our children, they took a pass," Superintendent of Public Instruction Juneau said. "Every child deserves to feel safe and secure when they go to school. Parents and students deserve to have consistent definitions and procedures to turn to when they are dealing with bullying and harassment. Unfortunately, Republican committee members don’t agree."
Bullying, harassment and intimidation are real issues affecting Montana schools. According to the 2009 Montana Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 38 percent of 7th and 8th graders and 23 percent of high school students report being bullied. Between 2007 and 2009, 1,470 Montana students were suspended for bullying. Cell phones and computers have created an entirely new avenue for targeting victims.
"I'm disappointed, and I know parents across Montana will be disappointed the Legislature did not listen to them," stated bill sponsor Senator Kim Gillan (D-Billings). "I want to thank the brave students who came forward to tell their stories to the committee. Unfortunately, they fell on deaf ears."
Senators voting against SB 141: Ripley (R-Wolf Creek), Zinke (R-Whitefish), Essman (R-Billings), Moore (R-Miles City), Brown (R-Huntley), Lake (R-Hamilton)
Senators voting in support of SB 141: Branae (D-Billings), Stewart-Peregoy (D-Crow Agency), Facey (D-Missoula), Hawks (D-Bozeman)