Putting together a bullying billDistrict 37 North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner says plans are in the works for an anti-bullying law in North Dakota and he met with concerned Dickinson parents Mandy and Robert Skinner Monday morning to discuss the steps it would take to get the law on the books.
District 37 North Dakota Sen. Rich Wardner says plans are in the works for an anti-bullying law in North Dakota and he met with concerned Dickinson parents Mandy and Robert Skinner Monday morning to discuss the steps it would take to get the law on the books.
“I am ecstatic,” Mandy Skinner said. “Finally, somebody is taking action against bullying. It’s about time and well needed.”
Richardton-Taylor High School Superintendent Brent Bautz agrees.
“It’s about time we do something,” he said. “I would be interested to see what they come up with. We are one of very few states that does not have an anti-bullying law.”
Wardner says cyber bullying in conjunction with the amount of e-mails legislators have been receiving regarding recent bullying incidents, including the suicide death of a Cooperstown High School student, brought the issue to the forefront.
Robert Skinner said he feels horrible that it took the death of a child to make people take action.
The first step to getting an anti-bullying law in place is to write the bill, which Wardner says he expects to happen by December or mid January.
“Anytime you do a law there comes some hesitation,” Wardner said. “There can be a lot of outcomes you did not anticipate, so it is important to have as many people involved in the processes as possible.”
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Monday he has talked with many legislators to see what would work best for North Dakota.
“I have also instructed lawyers on my staff to survey other states and find the best statute that we can craft for North Dakota,” he said.
He said schools should have to have a bullying policy.
“That would include safe reporting for the students, staff reporting and that there would be follow-up on the incident and consequences for bullying activity,” he said.
After the bill has been crafted, there will be a committee hearing to get public input. After that, a vote will be held and the bill will go to the House where it will be voted on again.
“If it gets shot down there, that’s the end of it,” Wardner said.
If the House passes the bill, it moves to another committee hearing, gets voted on, and then it is sent to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill it goes to the governor’s office where it will either be signed into law or vetoed.
If it is signed, the law will go into effect Aug. 1.
“I really see this bill passing,” Wardner said. “Hopefully we can make life better for kids.”
The 62nd Legislative Assembly will organize Dec. 6-8, and will convene in regular session Tuesday, Jan. 4.
Dickinson Public Schools, Killdeer Public School and South Heart Public School officials all declined to comment Monday and calls to Belfield and New England schools were not returned.