Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 106

04/27/2005 01:00 PM EDUCATION


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01:07:53 PM Start
01:08:45 PM HB233
01:31:40 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
*+ HB 233 PREVENTING HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS TELECONFERENCED
Moved CSHB 233(EDU) Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
HB 233-PREVENTING HARASSMENT IN SCHOOLS                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR NEUMAN announced  that the only order of  business would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL  NO. 233, "An  Act relating to  preventing harassment,                                                               
intimidation, or  bullying in public  schools; and  providing for                                                               
an effective date."                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:08:45 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON  moved  to  adopt CSHB  233,  Version  24-                                                               
LS0804\F,  Mischel,  4/19/05, as  the  working  document.   There                                                               
being no objection, Version F was before the committee.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
1:09:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOODIE SALMON,  Alaska State Legislature, sponsor,                                                               
began  by  thanking  the  committee  for  hearing  HB  233.    He                                                               
explained that  HB 233  addresses a  serious problem  in Alaska's                                                               
schools,  bullying.    Representative  Salmon  acknowledged  that                                                               
there is no simple way to  stop bullying, but this legislation is                                                               
necessary  for the  following reasons.    First, the  legislation                                                               
allows  the legislature  to take  a strong  policy stand  against                                                               
bullying.   Second, this legislation  requires that  every school                                                               
district in the state adopt  anti-bullying policies and the State                                                               
Board of Education  to develop a model policy  that districts can                                                               
follow when  developing their own.   Representative Salmon closed                                                               
by urging the committee's support for HB 233.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:11:56 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON opined that this is fabulous legislation.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:13:59 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR NEUMAN noted the presence of Representative Cissna, a co-                                                                 
sponsor of the legislation.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:14:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  expected that  everyone  in  this room  has                                                               
dealt with bullies in school at  some point in time.  He informed                                                               
the  committee  that  bullying   by  definition  is  misbehavior.                                                               
Drawing upon  his experience as a  former teacher, Representative                                                               
Lynn opined that  misbehavior is sometimes allowed  to take place                                                               
in  the  classroom  because  teachers hands  have  been  tied  by                                                               
various forces.   Representative Lynn  agreed that the  intent of                                                               
HB 233  is excellent, although he  wasn't sure that it  will have                                                               
the impact everyone desires.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
1:16:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  SHARON  CISSNA,  Alaska  State  Legislature,  co-                                                               
sponsor of HB 233, thanked  Representative Salmon for introducing                                                               
HB  233.   She informed  the committee  that she  spoke with  the                                                               
Anchorage superintendent in order  to understand the implications                                                               
it would have  for the Anchorage School District.   The Anchorage                                                               
School  District,  she noted,  has  a  policy within  which  this                                                               
policy would fit.   Anchorage's policy refers  to harassment, and                                                               
amounts to very much the same  subject as HB 233.  Representative                                                               
Cissna explained that [under HB  233] a formal procedure would be                                                               
created  with  strategies so  that  children  are identified  and                                                               
schools  know  what  they  should  do with  each  problem.    She                                                               
concluded by noting her support of HB 233.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:18:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN commented  that teachers  in schools  should                                                               
have  instant  reactions  to  any  misbehavior.    He  questioned                                                               
whether laws are  necessary to tell teachers and  schools to stop                                                               
misbehavior.  "Are there not guidelines already," he asked.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA noted  the  increasing class  sizes.   She                                                               
then  emphasized  the need  for  a  policy  to  be in  place  for                                                               
teachers.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN informed  the committee  that when  he began                                                               
teaching in 1959, he had a class  of 43 students.  When there was                                                               
a problem in the classroom, he  knew actually who was causing it.                                                               
Although he  supported smaller  class sizes,  he opined  that any                                                               
teacher  should  know  who  is   causing  the  problem.    Again,                                                               
Representative Lynn applauded the intent of HB 233.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
1:21:19 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MARY   MCMAHON,   Interim  Superintendent,   Kashunamiut   School                                                               
District, related that [bullying] has  been a big concern for the                                                               
Kashunamiut  School District  this  year.   Many times  districts                                                               
aren't  prepared  to  deal  with   this  issue  as  they  should.                                                               
Therefore,  if  policies were  in  place  and the  districts  had                                                               
something in place, the situation  would be one that is proactive                                                               
rather than reactive.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:22:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  inquired as  to  why  legislation would  be                                                               
necessary  for  schools to  put  a  policy  in place  to  control                                                               
misbehavior.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. MCMAHON  said that she didn't  know whether it's the  role of                                                               
the  legislature  to do  this,  but  she  opined that  it's  good                                                               
legislation.  Furthermore, the legislation  addresses a big issue                                                               
that's found in all school districts.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON  related her belief in  limited government.                                                               
However,  perhaps  a  school  district  hasn't  even  thought  of                                                               
addressing  this   matter.    These  [bullying   situations]  are                                                               
[situations] that can  result in life and death  situations.  She                                                               
also pointed out that kids today  are different in that many kids                                                               
don't  know  how to  be  respectful  of others.    Representative                                                               
Wilson  opined that  if [school  districts]  don't have  policies                                                               
similar to that proposed in HB 233, then they should.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
1:24:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN  questioned  whether legislation  should  be                                                               
introduced requiring  school districts  to initiate a  program to                                                               
respect others.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WILSON opined  that  part of  "that" is  teaching                                                               
kids to handle  their feelings in acceptable ways.   If it has to                                                               
be  taught in  school  in order  to avoid  kids  being killed  in                                                               
schools, then it's worth it, she further opined.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR NEUMAN  acknowledged that in  a perfect  world, legislation                                                               
such as this  wouldn't be necessary.   This legislation instructs                                                               
school districts  to start  applying rules with  the help  of the                                                               
Department  of  Education and  Early  Development.   He  recalled                                                               
being informed  that of  the 53 school  districts in  Alaska that                                                               
were  asked what  they have  in  the way  of policies  [including                                                               
bullying]  only  17  responded.   Chair  Neuman  interpreted  the                                                               
aforementioned to  mean that  there has  to be  something telling                                                               
the school districts that [policies  addressing bullying] need to                                                               
be in place.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  inquired as to the  disciplinary policies of                                                               
the state's school districts.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:26:16 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MOIRA SMITH, Staff to Representative  Woodie Salmon, Alaska State                                                               
Legislature, said  that Representative  Salmon is  very concerned                                                               
with HB 233 being an unfunded  mandate, which is why he has spent                                                               
much time  working with the  Alaska Association of  School Boards                                                               
(AASB) and the Alaska Council  of School Administrators to ensure                                                               
that they didn't  view HB 233 as useless or  an unfunded mandate.                                                               
From AASB Ms.  Smith said she learned that it  has a model policy                                                               
on bullying.   Furthermore, AASB  has, through its  own research,                                                               
determined that 40 of Alaska's  school districts do have policies                                                               
that either address bullying as  a separate issue or intimidation                                                               
and harassment  in a way  that satisfies AASB.   The legislation,                                                               
HB  233, adopts  AASB's  policy and  recommends  that the  Alaska                                                               
State  Board of  Education adopt  it as  its policy  and mandates                                                               
that  every school  district  have  a policy.    Therefore, if  a                                                               
school district has  a policy that is in compliance  with what HB
233 mandates,  nothing is required.   As to the  earlier comments                                                               
questioning  [whether  it's necessary  for  HB  233 to  be  law],                                                               
parents have related  to the sponsor that it's  important to have                                                               
a  policy  in place  in  every  school  district.   Moreover,  by                                                               
passing  legislation on  bullying,  the legislature  is taking  a                                                               
policy stand  against it and  bolstering the efforts  of teachers                                                               
and administrators as they address this matter.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   LYNN   said   that  he   wholly   supports   the                                                               
aforementioned.    He  opined  that schools  need  to  return  to                                                               
discipline in  the classroom  in order  that education  can occur                                                               
and the money sent to schools can be used to teach kids.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
1:29:25 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MICHAEL  BYER, Principal,  Hoonah City  School, related  that the                                                               
Hoonah City  School is dealing  with bullying issues.   He agreed                                                               
that there have been various  forms of harassment in schools over                                                               
the years, but  he emphasized the need for there  to be research-                                                               
based programs  to help  students learn how  to behave  with each                                                               
other.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved to report CSHB 233, Version 24-                                                                     
LS0804\F,  Mischel, 4/19/05,  out  of  committee with  individual                                                               
recommendations  and the  accompanying zero  fiscal note.   There                                                               
being no objection,  CSHB 233(EDU) was reported out  of the House                                                               
Special Committee on Education.                                                                                                 

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