Q: Did the Legislature take any action relevant to cyberbullying and the increasing prevalence of social media in students’ lives?
A: Yes. SB2050 amends Texas Education Code section 37.0832 to require a school district’s board to adopt a policy, including any necessary procedures, for prevention and mediation of bullying incidents, including cyberbullying, between students. Previously, the statute made adoption of a policy for bullying prevention and mediation optional.
Statistics are rising that indicate students who experience bullying are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, dropping out of school and suicide. As a result, the 87th Legislature amended Texas Education Code section 37.0832 to require a school district board of trustees to adopt a policy for prevention and mediation of bullying incidents, including cyberbullying, between students when the bullying interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts orderly operations of a classroom, school, or school-sponsored or school-related activity.
Prior to this latest bill, the statute made adoption of a policy for bullying prevention and mediation optional. SB2050 also amends Texas Education Code section 48.009 by adding a subsection that requires Commissioner rules mandating each school district to annually report through Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS), the number of reported incidents of bullying that have occurred at each campus. The school district’s policy under Section 37.0832 must comply with minimum standards to be adopted by the Texas Education Agency. These standards, among other things, will require that each campus establish a committee to address bullying by focusing on prevention efforts and health and wellness initiatives and require students at each grade level to meet periodically for instruction on building relationships and preventing bullying, including cyberbullying.
SB2050 takes effect September 1, 2021. While TASB Update 118 is not expected until after initiation of the 2021-2022 school year, your district is wise to begin dialogue concerning preventive measures and to immediately institute mediation practices for all bullying incidents.
For specific questions or additional information regarding bullying policies and reports, please consult with your local school law attorney.