Legislature(2013 - 2014)CAPITOL 106

03/31/2014 08:00 AM EDUCATION


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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+= HB 45 ELECTRONIC BULLYING IN SCHOOLS TELECONFERENCED
Moved Out of Committee
+= HB 189 HAZING TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 189(EDC) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                         HB 189-HAZING                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:24:06 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS announced that the  final order of business would be                                                               
HOUSE  BILL NO.  189, "An  Act relating  to hazing."  [Before the                                                               
committee was Version O, adopted 4/10/13.]                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:26:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    JONATHAN     KREISS-TOMKINS,    Alaska    State                                                               
Legislature, as prime  sponsor of HB 189, stated  that the intent                                                               
of the bill is to address  hazing, noting HB 189 would add hazing                                                               
to school  district policies, not  unlike the previous  bill, but                                                               
would also  define hazing in  the penal code for  cases resulting                                                               
in death or serious physical  injury.  He said the characteristic                                                               
of  hazing that  differentiates  it from  other  crimes, such  as                                                               
harassment or  assault, is that  hazing constitutes a  crime even                                                               
if the victim consented to or  acquiesced to the situation.  This                                                               
makes  hazing  a  unique   and  potentially  troublesome  action.                                                               
Hazing happens when  someone in authority or  power manipulates a                                                               
subordinate and  takes advantage of  him/her.  He  clarified that                                                               
Version O is before the committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
8:28:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  referred to how battery  or assault occurs                                                               
in the current  criminal code.  First, she  didn't understand how                                                               
a victim  would agree to  something that would result  in serious                                                               
injury or  death.   Second, she suggested  crimes that  result in                                                               
serious injury or death are already covered in the penal code.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  answered   that  a  victim  could                                                               
easily consent to an initiation  process, which means agreeing to                                                               
an unknown.   For example, a person  may consent to get  on a van                                                               
that  takes  him/her  to  an   initiation  spot;  however  it  is                                                               
difficult to pinpoint when consent does or does not occur.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  asked  whether any  cases  have  occurred                                                               
where someone has been injured  or killed during a hazing process                                                               
and the case  wasn't prosecuted due to a defense  that the victim                                                               
consented or agreed to the hazing.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS answered no;  not to his knowledge.                                                               
No  one has  been  killed  in Alaska  but  serious injuries  have                                                               
occurred, although he  was unsure how those  cases were resolved.                                                               
The  concept for  HB 189  was  brought to  him by  a teacher  and                                                               
Alaska  would  be  the  45th   of  50  states  to  adopt  similar                                                               
legislation.    He  offered  his belief  that  hazing  should  be                                                               
included in  district policy manuals  and also in the  penal code                                                               
to address serious hazing.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:32:02 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked whether  the previous bill, HB 45,                                                               
would cover hazing.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  answered no;  it would  not, since                                                               
the distinction is that hazing  takes place when someone in power                                                               
manipulates someone  who is  not in  power to  become part  of an                                                               
organization or team.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P.  WILSON  asked for  further  clarification  on                                                               
whether  schools are  subject to  mandatory  reporting of  hazing                                                               
incidents.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
[CHAIR GATTIS left the meeting room momentarily.]                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:33:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS anticipated that  99 percent of the                                                               
instances would be  handled internally and hazing  would be added                                                               
to  school district  policy manuals  to  heighten awareness  that                                                               
this type of activity is not allowed.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:34:28 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P.  WILSON asked for further  clarification on the                                                               
reporting aspects of hazing.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS answered  that students,  coaches,                                                               
administrators  or  anyone  witnessing  it  would  report  hazing                                                               
behavior.  In further response to  a question, he agreed that the                                                               
school wouldn't report it to the police.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE P. WILSON asked how  the crime of hazing becomes a                                                               
misdemeanor  since  the matter  would  need  to come  before  the                                                               
police before the  person is charged.  She  further asked whether                                                               
the school has an obligation to report hazing to the police.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS answered that  the school would not                                                               
be required to  report hazing to the police.   He envisioned this                                                               
bill  will create  a  tool  for prosecutors  to  use  in the  one                                                               
percent  of hazing  instances that  result in  serious injury  or                                                               
death.  Further,  this crime would be used in  instances in which                                                               
it  is  difficult to  determine  whether  consent occurred.    He                                                               
characterized "consent"  as an insidious aspect  of hazing, which                                                               
creates a gray area.  He  surmised that students who were paddled                                                               
or razzed would report the hazing to the school authorities.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:36:40 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS acknowledged  that hazing could occur  at the behest                                                               
of a  coach so students should  also be able to  report hazing to                                                               
law enforcement.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:37:54 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  directed attention to page  1, lines 5-6,                                                               
which read, "  ... causes a situation that subjects  a student to                                                               
a substantial  risk of serious  physical injury ..." and  page 4,                                                               
line  1, which  read, "  ... to  the risk  of physical  injury or                                                               
severe mental  or emotional injury,  ...."  He asked  for further                                                               
clarification   since   this   appears  to   be   two   different                                                               
definitions.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  answered  that  page  1  involves                                                               
situations  in  which law  enforcement  is  involved and  page  4                                                               
refers to less egregious hazing that uses an internal process.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:39:27 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER   related  his  understanding   that  the                                                               
language on  page 1, AS  11.61.115 (a),  relates to the  crime of                                                               
hazing  whereas the  language  on page  4 line  1  relates to  AS                                                               
14.33.250 (4).   He asked how a situation would  create a risk of                                                               
severe  mental or  emotional injury  and further  asked how  that                                                               
would be assessed.   He suggested that emotional  injury might be                                                               
more difficult to assess.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS related  a scenario  that occurred                                                               
in Sitka in  which students were left naked in  a remote location                                                               
and had to walk back to town to illustrate the need to report.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
8:40:38 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER suggested that  such a walk and initiation                                                               
might  be an  easy  task for  some  to endure,  but  it could  be                                                               
emotionally  challenging  for  others.    He  asked  for  further                                                               
clarification  on  the evaluation  or  assessment  that would  be                                                               
used.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS  said   that  tough   sports  and                                                               
activities,  such as  football,  are not  affected  by the  bill;                                                               
however, anything that doesn't  include day-to-day activities and                                                               
entails  risk, injury,  or mental  anguish would  fall under  the                                                               
definition of hazing.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked whether  any element  of community-                                                               
based standards  will be used or  if a uniform standard  would be                                                               
applied.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  indicated that  school  districts                                                               
would determine  hazing policies,  but he  did not  envision that                                                               
typical hazing activities would be in the penal code.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
8:42:50 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX noticed  that  this bill  applies to  K-12                                                               
grades  and  asked  if  hazing  at  the  college  level  is  more                                                               
prevalent.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS stated  that Sections  2-10 relate                                                               
to school district policy manuals;  however, for serious cases of                                                               
hazing  Section  1  [relating  to  the  criminal  code  under  AS                                                               
11.61.115] would apply.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LEDOUX  referring   to  the   previous  incident                                                               
mentioned,  leaving someone  at the  end of  a road.   She  asked                                                               
whether  these  are  the  types   of  activities  encountered  on                                                               
television survivor programs.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KREISS-TOMKINS  answered yes; however,  he doubted                                                               
people's clothing  would be  removed for  survivor programs.   In                                                               
further  response, he  acknowledged that  despite no  one getting                                                               
hurt, the  potential for  harm existed  and frostbite  could have                                                               
occurred.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
8:44:51 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER referred  to page 3 line 16  of Version O,                                                               
which  read,  "appropriate  school official;  failure  to  report                                                           
shall result  in appropriate  disciplinary action."   He  said he                                                           
did not see a definition for appropriate disciplinary action.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS    offered   his    belief   that                                                               
appropriate  disciplinary action  would be  determined by  school                                                               
districts.  He  assumed the disciplinary action  would be similar                                                               
to actions related to harassment or bullying offenses.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:46:14 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
LES  MORSE,  Deputy  Commissioner, Office  of  the  Commissioner,                                                               
Department of  Education and Early  Development (EED),  said that                                                               
HB  189  would  add  to existing  school  district  policies  for                                                               
harassment, intimidation,  and bullying.  This  bill would define                                                               
hazing and  require hazing  to be  incorporated in  the policies.                                                               
The  current statute  requires  parent  and community  engagement                                                               
when writing  the policies.   Ultimately,  the policies  would be                                                               
adopted  by  individual school  boards  using  a public  process.                                                               
Although school  districts develop their own  policy manuals, the                                                               
Alaska Association of School Boards  (AASB) has established model                                                               
policies  and many  districts,  but not  all,  adopt these  model                                                               
policies.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE described  the reporting aspect.   Current law requires                                                               
students  and adults  in  schools to  report  to the  appropriate                                                               
authority;  however,   if  the   authority,  such  as   a  coach,                                                               
instigated  the hazing,  the next  step will  be to  report to  a                                                               
higher authority,  typically the  principal.   Further, districts                                                               
report  to the  department annually  on the  number of  incidents                                                               
that have resulted in suspension or expulsion from school.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
8:49:09 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS  asked for further  clarification on  reporting when                                                               
an adult,  teacher, or  coach is involved  and for  the potential                                                               
consequences.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE answered that if an  adult, teacher, or coach failed to                                                               
report  or  was  part  of   the  activity,  it  could  result  in                                                               
disciplinary  action.   In  those  instances  the local  district                                                               
would determine  any disciplinary  action, but  egregious actions                                                               
would  likely result  in law  enforcement or  legal actions.   He                                                               
stated  that  student and  employee  handbooks  will outline  the                                                               
district and  school policies.   In most cases  personnel actions                                                               
will be taken if an adult is involved in the incident, he said.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
8:51:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  referred to  page 3,  line 16,  to the                                                               
language,  "failure   to  report  shall  result   in  appropriate                                                           
disciplinary action."   She asked  whether policies are  in place                                                           
to cover disciplinary action.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE  answered this language  is nested in current  law, but                                                               
"hazing" is added  to subsection (b).  He  explained that current                                                               
law  requires   school  districts   to  establish   policies  for                                                               
disciplinary  action for  those who  fail to  report [harassment,                                                               
intimidation,  or bullying].   He  acknowledged that  actions for                                                               
"hazing" would also be handled in these policies.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
8:51:43 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked whether most districts  have such a                                                               
policy.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE answered  yes; however,  even though  school districts                                                               
have policies regarding reporting, it is not specific to hazing.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:52:03 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  asked whether  the Association  of Alaska                                                               
School  Boards  (AASB)  model   policies  include  sanctions  for                                                               
failure   to  report   [hazing,   harassment,  intimidation,   or                                                               
bullying].                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE answered  he hasn't  specifically reviewed  the AASB's                                                               
model   policies  regarding   reporting  but   he  believes   the                                                               
association's policies  are current  so he felt  comfortable that                                                               
model language exists.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  how  often reports  on hazing  and                                                               
bullying currently occur.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE, speaking  from his  experience as  a principal,  said                                                               
that many of these incidents  are not reported to the department.                                                               
He suspected hazing incidents are  more severe at the high school                                                               
level and generally  are reported since the  student handbook and                                                               
rules cover  bullying behaviors.   Typically, he  envisioned that                                                               
someone will speak out and it would  also be rare for an adult to                                                               
observe hazing  and not report it.   He recalled during  his time                                                               
as  principal of  a  middle  school that  reports  occurred on  a                                                               
monthly basis.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER asked  what  type of  sanctions might  be                                                               
imposed on school staff that fail to report such activity.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE  responded that he  never encountered any  school staff                                                               
failure  to report,  but he  was aware  of an  instance in  which                                                               
school  staff was  put on  leave  pending an  investigation.   He                                                               
indicated possible sanctions could  include loss of employment or                                                               
reporting the activity to legal authorities.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
8:54:45 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SEATON  wondered if  most hazing would  already be                                                               
reported  as harassment,  intimidation,  or bullying.   He  asked                                                               
whether it is useful to  include hazing to the current definition                                                               
to ensure this specific category is covered.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE  offered his  belief that  it will  be helpful  to have                                                               
clarity  in statute;  however,  he acknowledged  this  this is  a                                                               
policy call for the committee and legislature to make.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
8:55:46 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  P. WILSON  asked  whether hazing  could be  dealt                                                               
with under the current statutes.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE  answered  that  hazing would  have  been  covered  by                                                               
polices in  the two  school districts he  worked in  as principal                                                               
and teacher, although that was ten years ago.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
8:56:41 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER  noted the relationship in  topics between                                                               
HB 189 and HB  45.  He referred to page 3,  lines 4-5, of Version                                                               
O, which read, " ... or  at school sponsored or school sanctioned                                                           
activities ...."   He noted this language  explicitly extends the                                                           
reporting  requirement  to  activities   beyond  the  school  and                                                               
whether this is practical.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. MORSE offered his belief  that any school sponsored or school                                                               
sanctioned  activities would  already be  covered since  students                                                               
are required  to follow the  policies and adults  supervising the                                                               
events must also follow the district's procedures.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER understood  this  language would  further                                                               
clarify  it to  explicitly extend  the reporting  requirements to                                                               
school sanctioned events.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  MORSE  answered that  HB  189  will  make the  statute  more                                                               
explicit and clear.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
8:58:25 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  expressed concern that a  fine line exists                                                               
between "hazing" and  an "initiation" into a sport.   She related                                                               
a  scenario  to  illustrate  how   participation  in  an  Ironman                                                               
triathlon  in a  hot  climate to  join a  running  club might  be                                                               
considered  an   extreme  activity  and  raise   concerns.    She                                                               
suggested  many people  might think  a  person is  "a little  bit                                                               
nuts" [participating in such initiation events].                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
8:59:52 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS remarked  that  he  would love  to                                                               
participate in  an Ironman.   He clarified  that the  language is                                                               
relevant  because it  is  context specific.    It's important  to                                                               
consider what  is reasonable to expect  to occur in a  program or                                                               
an activity.   Certain things may  be acceptable to someone  on a                                                               
track team,  but in other  situations the same activity  would be                                                               
considered hazing.   He referred to his sponsor  statement to the                                                               
aforementioned incident that resulted  in frostbite, noting these                                                               
types of incidents will be handled internally by the district.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  interjected that  [hazing] seemed  like it                                                               
would fit  in assault  and battery charges.   She  questioned how                                                               
the development  of unique challenges  would be allowed  to occur                                                               
since something  new wouldn't necessarily fall  under the current                                                               
purview.   In response to  a question, she clarified  that people                                                               
can't  envision some  new sport  or challenge  until it  actually                                                               
transpires.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KREISS-TOMKINS  surmised  that most  high  school                                                               
sports in  Alaska are routine, but  if a new sport  developed, it                                                               
would likely be considered as being normal and customary.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX maintained  her concern.   She  questioned                                                               
how this  bill might affect new  sports and whether a  sport such                                                               
as boxing  would ever  have been  allowed if HB  189 had  been in                                                               
effect.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
9:04:01 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   KREISS-TOMKINS    referred   to   Representative                                                               
Saddler's  question on  page 2,  Section 3  of Version  O.   This                                                               
section  outlines  the  community based  guidelines  for  hazing,                                                               
which  includes an  opportunity for  participation by  parents or                                                               
guardians,  school   employees,  students,   administrators,  and                                                               
community  representatives.   Again,  this  section outlines  the                                                               
current  community developed  process in  statute for  developing                                                               
district policy manuals.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
9:04:53 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TONY  NEUMAN,  Program  Officer, Division  of  Juvenile  Justice,                                                               
Department of  Health and Social  Services (DHSS), said  that the                                                               
EED spoke  well to the  process in terms  of any school  staff or                                                               
adults  committing hazing  offenses.   He described  how a  minor                                                               
would  be handled,  such  that if  law  enforcement identified  a                                                               
minor committing  an offense, the  officer would make  a referral                                                               
to  the division  and to  the local  probation office,  and staff                                                               
will  collectively   determine  how   to  proceed   ranging  from                                                               
instituting court  proceedings or a diversion.   Typically, youth                                                               
would  be  deferred to  youth  court  and  staff may  require  an                                                               
apology  to  the  victim  or  community  work  service,  but  not                                                               
necessarily petition the  court to handle the case.   In response                                                               
to  a question,  he clarified  that  he is  speaking to  proposed                                                               
Section 1 of Version O and not to the school policy.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
9:07:10 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR GATTIS closed public testimony on HB 189.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
9:07:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON commented  that HB  189 adds  and improves                                                               
clarity  in  existing  statute,  noting  this  bill  may  prevent                                                               
hazing, thus, he offered his support for HB 189.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
9:08:16 AM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SEATON moved  to  report  the proposed  committee                                                               
substitute  (CS)  for  HB  189,  Version  O,  labeled  28-LS0672,                                                               
Strasbaugh,   4/9/13,   out    of   committee   with   individual                                                               
recommendations and  the accompanying fiscal notes.   There being                                                               
no  objection, the  CSHB  189(EDC) was  reported  from the  House                                                               
Education Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB189 Ver O.PDF HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB189 Ver O Sectional.PDF HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB189 Ver O Explanation of Changes.PDF HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB189 Sponsor Statement.PDF HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB 189 fiscalNote DOA.pdf HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB 189 fiscalNote DOA - Public Defender.pdf HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB 189 fiscalNote - EED.pdf HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB 189 fiscalNote - DOL.pdf HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189
HB 189 fiscalNote - DOC.pdf HEDC 3/31/2014 8:00:00 AM
HB 189