Schools adapt to bully law

Published 8:20 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Several area school districts are reviewing their policies on bullying to make sure they are in compliance with new anti-bullying legislation signed into law last week by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The law requires schools to adopt and implement anti-bullying policies by the start of next school year. And while most schools already have bullying policies in place, school officials want to make sure their policies are in line with the new legislation.
“Right now our policies are pretty comprehensive so I think we are in pretty good shape,” said Myra Munroe, Edwardsburg assistant superintendent. “But that doesn’t mean we won’t have to make some minor changes.”
Brandywine Supt. John Jarpe said his district is in a situation similar to Edwardsburg.
“We have a board policy on bullying that has been in effect for several years,” he said. “I still have to get the details about the new legislation to make sure we are in compliance with the new law. There could be some revisions.”
Dowagiac Principal Paul Hartsig said his school has had an anti “bullying rubric” in place for several years and that they too are checking it against the new law.
“We feel it is comprehensive, but when any new legislation comes along we will always review what we are doing to ensure it meets the letter of the law,” Hartsig said.
Similar actions are being taken in the Niles and Buchanan school districts.
Bullying policies can be found in a district’s student handbook and on most district websites.
Area school officials all agree the legislation is a good thing.
“Bringing more attention to bullying, especially now with the bullying that can take place on line, is a positive,” said Andrea van der Laan, Buchanan superintendent. “It can be difficult for parents to know exactly what is going on on a student’s iPhone or Facebook.”
The new legislation contains language stating bullying can happen through means of electronic communication.