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2005 SESSION

051519232
HOUSE BILL NO. 2266
Offered January 12, 2005
Prefiled January 11, 2005
A BILL to amend and reenact 22.1-208.01, 22.1-279.3:1, and 22.1-279.6 of the Code of Virginia, relating to school board policies relating to bullying, harassment, and intimidation.
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Patrons-- Bell, Albo, Athey, Carrico, Eisenberg, Fralin, Frederick, Hugo, Janis, Johnson, Kilgore, Phillips, Sherwood and Stump
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Referred to Committee on Education
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Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia:

1. That 22.1-208.01, 22.1-279.3:1, and 22.1-279.6 of the Code of Virginia are amended and reenacted as follows:

22.1-208.01. Character education required.

A. Each school board shall establish, within its existing programs, a character education program in its schools. The purpose of the character education program shall be to instill in students civic virtues and personal character traits so as to improve the learning environment, promote student achievement, reduce disciplinary problems, and develop civic-minded students of high character. The components of each program shall be developed in cooperation with the students, their parents, and the community at large. The basic character traits taught may include (i) trustworthiness, including honesty, integrity, reliability, and loyalty; (ii) respect, including the precepts of the Golden Rule, tolerance, and courtesy, and the inappropriateness of bullying, intimidation, and harassment of others; (iii) responsibility, including hard work, economic self-reliance, accountability, diligence, perseverance, and self-control; (iv) fairness, including justice, consequences of bad behavior, principles of nondiscrimination, and freedom from prejudice; (v) caring, including kindness, empathy, compassion, consideration, generosity, and charity; and (vi) citizenship, including patriotism, the Pledge of Allegiance, respect for the American flag, concern for the common good, respect for authority and the law, and community-mindedness.

Classroom instruction may be used to supplement a character education program; however, each program shall be interwoven into the school procedures and environment and structured to instruct primarily through example, illustration, and participation, in such a way as to complement the Standards of Learning.

This provision is intended to educate students regarding those core civic values and virtues which are efficacious to civilized society and are common to the diverse social, cultural, and religious groups of the Commonwealth. Consistent with this purpose, Virginia's civic values, which are the principles articulated in the Bill of Rights (Article I) of the Constitution of Virginia and the ideals reflected in the seal of the Commonwealth, as described in 7.1-26, may be taught as representative of such civic values. Nothing herein shall be construed as requiring or authorizing the indoctrination in any particular religious or political belief.

B. The Board of Education shall establish criteria for character education programs, consistent with the provisions of this section. To assist school divisions in implementing character education programs and practices that are designed to promote the development of personal qualities as set forth in this section and the Standards of Quality and that will improve family and community involvement in the public schools, the Board of Education shall also establish, within the Department of Education, the Commonwealth Character Initiative. The Board shall provide resources and technical assistance to school divisions regarding successful character education programs and shall (i) identify and analyze effective character education programs and practices and (ii) collect and disseminate among school divisions information regarding such programs and practices and potential funding and support sources. The Board may also provide resources supporting professional development for administrators and teachers in the delivery of any character education programs.

C. The Board of Education shall award, with such funds as are appropriated for this purpose, grants to school boards for the implementation of innovative character education programs.

22.1-279.3:1. Reports of certain acts to school authorities.

A. Reports shall be made to the division superintendent and to the principal or his designee on all incidents involving (i) the assault or assault and battery, without bodily injury, of any person on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity; (ii) the assault and battery which that results in bodily injury, sexual assault, death, shooting, stabbing, cutting, or wounding of any person on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity or any conduct described as stalking in 18.2-60.3 that occurs on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity; (iii) any conduct involving alcohol, marijuana, a controlled substance, imitation controlled substance, or an anabolic steroid on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity, including the theft or attempted theft of student prescription medications; (iv) any threats against school personnel while on a school bus, on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; (v) the illegal carrying of a firearm, as defined in 22.1-277.07, onto school property; (vi) any illegal conduct involving firebombs, explosive materials or devices, or hoax explosive devices, as defined in 18.2-85, or explosive or incendiary devices, as defined in 18.2-433.1, or chemical bombs, as described in 18.2-87.1, on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity; (vii) any threats or false threats to bomb, as described in 18.2-83, made against school personnel or involving school property or school buses; or (viii) the arrest of any student for an incident occurring on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity, including the charge therefor.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 12 ( 16.1-299 et seq.) of Chapter 11 of Title 16.1, local law-enforcement authorities shall report, and the principal or his designee and the division superintendent shall receive such reports, on offenses, wherever committed, by students enrolled at the school if the offense would be a felony if committed by an adult or would be a violation of the Drug Control Act ( 54.1-3400 et seq.) and occurred on a school bus, on school property, or at a school-sponsored activity, or would be an adult misdemeanor involving any incidents described in clauses (i) through (viii) of subsection A.

C. The principal or his designee shall submit a report of all incidents required to be reported pursuant to this section to the superintendent of the school division. The division superintendent shall annually report all such incidents to the Department of Education for the purpose of recording the frequency of such incidents on forms that shall be provided by the Department and shall make such information available to the public. A division superintendent who knowingly fails to comply or secure compliance with the reporting requirements of this subsection shall be subject to the sanctions authorized in 22.1-65. A principal who knowingly fails to comply or secure compliance with the reporting requirements of this section shall be subject to sanctions prescribed by the local school board, which may include, but need not be limited to, demotion or dismissal.

The principal or his designee shall also notify the parent of any student involved in an incident required pursuant to this section to be reported, regardless of whether disciplinary action is taken against such student or the nature of the disciplinary action. Such notice shall relate to only the relevant student's involvement and shall not include information concerning other students; however, a copy of a concise description of the procedure for filing a juvenile petition and the process for contacting the local law-enforcement agency required by subsection E shall be attached to the notice to the parents.

Whenever any student commits any reportable incident as set forth in this section, such student shall be required to participate in such prevention and intervention activities as deemed appropriate by the superintendent or his designee. Prevention and intervention activities shall be identified in the local school division's drug and violence prevention plans developed pursuant to the federal Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (Title IV - Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act).

D. Except as may otherwise be required by federal law, regulation, or jurisprudence, the principal shall immediately report to the local law-enforcement agency any act enumerated in clauses (ii) through (vii) of subsection A that may constitute a criminal offense and may report to the local law-enforcement agency any incident described in clause (i) of subsection A.

Further, except as may otherwise be required by federal law, regulation, or jurisprudence, the principal shall also immediately report any act enumerated in clauses (ii) through (vii) of subsection A that may constitute a criminal offense to the parents of any minor student who is the object of such act. A copy of the concise description of the procedure for filing a juvenile petition and for contacting the local law-enforcement agency required by subsection E shall be attached to the report.

E. A statement providing a procedure and the purpose for the requirements of this section shall be included in school board policies required by 22.1-253.13:7, including a concise description of the procedure for filing a juvenile petition and for contacting the local law-enforcement agency to which reports are submitted hereunder.

The Board of Education shall promulgate regulations to implement this section, including, but not limited to, establishing reporting dates and report formats.

F. For the purposes of this section, "parent" or "parents" means any parent, guardian or other person having control or charge of a child.

G. This section shall not be construed to diminish the authority of the Board of Education or to diminish the Governor's authority to coordinate and provide policy direction on official communications between the Commonwealth and the United States government.

22.1-279.6. Board of Education guidelines and model policies for codes of student conduct; school board regulations.

A. The Board of Education shall establish guidelines and develop model policies for codes of student conduct to aid local school boards in the implementation of such policies. The guidelines and model policies shall include, but not be limited to, (i) criteria for the removal of a student from a class, the use of suspension, expulsion, and exclusion as disciplinary measures, the grounds for suspension and expulsion and exclusion, and the procedures to be followed in such cases, including proceedings for such suspension, expulsion, and exclusion decisions and all applicable appeals processes; (ii) standards, consistent with state, federal and case laws, for school board policies on alcohol and drugs, hazing, vandalism, trespassing, threats, search and seizure, disciplining of students with disabilities, intentional injury of others, self-defense, and dissemination of such policies to students, their parents, and school personnel; and (iii) procedures to prevent, prohibit, and control bullying, harassment, and intimidation; and (iv) standards for in-service training of school personnel in and examples of the appropriate management of student conduct and student offenses in violation of school board policies.

In accordance with the most recent enunciation of constitutional principles by the Supreme Court of the United States of America, the Board's standards for school board policies on alcohol and drugs and search and seizure shall include guidance for procedures relating to voluntary and mandatory drug testing in schools, including, but not limited to, which groups may be tested, use of test results, confidentiality of test information, privacy considerations, consent to the testing, need to know, and release of the test results to the appropriate school authority.

In the case of suspension and expulsion, the procedures set forth in this article shall be the minimum procedures that the school board may prescribe.

B. School boards shall adopt and revise, as required by 22.1-253.13:7 and in accordance with the requirements of this section, regulations on codes of student conduct that are consistent with, but may be more stringent than, the guidelines of the Board. School boards shall include, in the regulations on codes of student conduct, procedures for suspension, expulsion, and exclusion decisions and shall biennially review the model student conduct code to incorporate discipline options and alternatives to preserve a safe, nondisruptive environment for effective teaching and learning.

Each school board shall include, in its code of student conduct, prohibitions against bullying, harassment, intimidation, hazing, and profane or obscene language or conduct. School boards shall also cite, in their codes of student conduct, the provisions of 18.2-56, which defines and prohibits hazing and imposes a Class 1 misdemeanor penalty for violations, i.e., confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500, either or both.

School board policies relating to bullying, harassment, and intimidation shall include, but need not be limited to, a definition, consistent with the definition provided in this subsection, of bullying, intimidation, and harassment; a clear statement prohibiting such actions on school property or at school-sponsored events; a procedure for reporting incidents; strategies for protecting any person who is the object of such actions; training for teachers, administrators, and other personnel on the prevention and control of bullying, harassment, and intimidation; and a process for educating students on bullying, harassment, and intimidation.

For the purposes of this section, "bullying, harassment, and intimidation" mean any intentional gesture, threat, verbal or physical act, or written statement that (i) harms a student, (ii) damages a student's property, or (iii) places a student in reasonable fear of death or bodily injury.

A school board may regulate the use or possession of beepers or other portable communications devices and laser pointers by students on school property or attending school functions or activities and establish disciplinary procedures pursuant to this article to which students violating such regulations will be subject.

Nothing herein shall be construed to require any school board to adopt policies requiring or encouraging any drug testing in schools. However, a school board may, in its discretion, require or encourage drug testing in accordance with the Board of Education's guidelines and model student conduct policies required by subsection A and the Board's guidelines for student searches required by 22.1-279.7.

C. The Board of Education shall establish standards to ensure compliance with the federal Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (Part F-Gun-Free Schools Act of 1994), as amended, in accordance with 22.1-277.07.

This subsection shall not be construed to diminish the authority of the Board of Education or to diminish the Governor's authority to coordinate and provide policy direction on official communications between the Commonwealth and the United States government.