RICHMOND — Virginia principals would be required to notify parents of bullies and their victims within five days of any report of bullying under a bill given final approval by the General Assembly Friday.
While the agreement to require the notification within five school days sailed through the Senate, it sparked debate from some House members who wanted the deadline extended.
“If my child was bullying, was being bullied, I would want to know,” responded the bill’s sponsor, Del. Eileen Filler-Corn, a Democrat representing Virginia’s 41st District.
She hopes the notifications could prevent bullying, including online.
Another delegate, Marcus Simon, said the notification could have helped him.
“My son was the bully, and I didn’t know about it ’til he told me about it,” said the Democrat representing the 53rd District. “My wife and I, we called the school to find out what was going on, and we called the parents of the other child, and guess what? We put an end to it, and we fixed it, just as soon as we found out,” he said.
Opponents of reducing the notification period from the 14 days the House had initially approved to the five days agreed to in the Senate expressed concerns that parents could be notified before instances are confirmed.
“Maybe there was an altercation, and the other child said, ‘They were bullying me,’ but in fact they just had a disagreement or they got into an argument,” said Del. Steve Landes, a Republican representing the 25th District.
“You don’t have the time in five days to clear all that up and make sure that Johnny’s not being wrongly accused of something that Sammy said,” he said.
Waiting any longer could make the process stretch on for weeks if there are days off of school in between, said Dickie Bell, a Republican representing the 20th District.
“Any act of bullying, whether it’s real or perceived, is a serious thing, and it needs to be treated as a priority,” Bell said.
The bill now goes to Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Virginia’s General Assembly is expected to wrap up its annual session on Saturday with a vote on the budget and some other outstanding bills.
Lawmakers return in April for a one-day session to consider any vetoes or amendments suggested by the governor to bills they have passed.
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