The Montana board
of public education is considering measures directing
school districts to adopt rules aimed at a reduction in
bullying. The period for public comment ended Monday,
and the board is expected to take final action in March.
The debate started last year in the legislature,
where a bill on bullying died after the board of
public education promised to take up the issue. The
board proposes having school districts: define bullying;
acknowledge that populations such as minorities are
susceptible to bullies; encourage students to report
bullying; and require administrators to investigate
reports of bullying.
Supporters, including the Montana School Boards
Association and the American Civil Liberties Union,
said the proposals make sense and may help protect
school districts from lawsuits over bullying. A handful of
opponents panned the proposal Monday when Steve Meloy,
executive secretary for the board of public education,
took public comment.
A list of recommendations the board prepared to
help districts implement the rule includes "minorities
by sexual orientation" as one of the potentially
Barbara Rush, a retired Helena teacher, said the
rule is not needed because schools already have rules
to deal with classic bullying, such as pushing,
shoving, and obnoxious behavior. "No teacher or
administrator lets students hurt each other," Rush said.