HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — Parents of school bullies could be on the hook under new legislation being proposed in Pennsylvania.
State Rep. Frank Burns (D-Cambria) wants to curb the problem of bullying in schools by holding parents accountable, including a fine of up to $750 and possible community service.
H.B. (House Bill) 1779 is a “bold parental accountability measure” requiring schools to notify parents any time their child bullies another child, according to Burns.
At first, parents would be told what action the school took. Parents would then be required to take a parenting class on bullying and asked to attend a bullying resolution conference for a second incident. Should it happen a third time or more, the bill would ensure the parents receive a court citation with a penalty of up to $750 and/or community service.
“Bullying is underreported and often unaddressed in any meaningful way,” said Burns, who introduced similar legislation in the past. “When it`s not addressed, bullying can escalate quickly from taunts and hurtful online posts to physical assaults and — in worst cases — suicide. Holding students, parents and school officials at all levels accountable is the only way to put an end to this scourge.”
H.B. 1779, also called the Pennsylvania Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, would clearly spell out the rights of students, parents and schools relating to bullying, Burns said. The legislation would build on the Safe2Say anonymous program that was previously implemented in schools statewide.
The legislation would also require schools to designate an anti-bullying specialist to track, investigate, and follow up on reports of bullying and cyberbullying. Schools would also have to report each verified incident to the Pennsylvania Department of Education monthly.
Schools that fail to report these could face punishment up to and including loss of teaching or principal certifications, Burns added.