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New Law Allows Schools to Expel Students for Online Threats

Legislation took effect Jan. 1, giving school districts another student discipline tool.

As Romeoville and Bolingbrook schools in a nationwide anti-bullying campaign known as , attorney Jeff Alperin on Monday updated the board on a new law that could allow districts to combat online bullying.

“As of Jan. 1, a state statute allows Illinois school districts to discipline students for off-campus electronic speech,” Alperin said. That includes threats made against other students, employees or any school-related personnel.

The text of the law, House Bill 3281, states that students may be expelled if they’ve been found to:

"... have made an explicit threat on an Internet website against a school employee, a student, or any school-related personnel, the Internet website through which the threat was made is a site that was accessible within the school at the time the threat was made or was available to third parties who worked or studied within the school grounds at the time the threat was made, and the threat could be reasonably interpreted as threatening to the safety and security of the threatened individual because of his or her duties or employment status or status as a student inside the school.”

Alperin said so far, he’s unaware of any cases that have tested the new legislation.

“It’s a quickly evolving area of the law,” he said.

Bullying policy update

Assistant Superintendent for Education Rachel Kinder also gave the board an update, sharing the latest version of the district’s anti-bullying policy.

Under state law, the district is required to maintain an anti-bullying policy and renew it every two years, she said. The policy must be shared with parents on an annual basis and filed with the Illinois State Board of Education.

“Bullying, intimidation, and/or harassment may take various forms, including without limitation: harassment, threats, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, theft, public humiliation, destruction of property, or retaliation for asserting or alleging an act of bullying,” the policy states.

To read the entire policy, CLICK HERE.

What's your take on the new law? Vote in our poll and tell us why you made your choice in the comments.

Joanne bleeden January 26, 2012 at 04:33 PM
I think it's about time vvsd took a stand against bullying! It's long over-due. I have had children in vvsd for 23 years and counting. My oldest daughter was a victim of bullies in 6th grade. BJW staff and vvsd administrators did NOTHING to help or even protect my daughter from the emotional and physical abuse she suffered as a result. I was forced to remove my daughter from that school and enroll her in a private school to protect her from the daily abuse she suffered. Especially after she was physically attacked right across the street from the school on her way home and the principal told me , There is nothing I can do because it didn't happen on school grounds." He then refused to cooperate with BPD to assist in identifying the boys involved in the attack! BPD told me , "BWJ staff have never cooperated with us in any part incidents of this type." No wonder vvsd students are failing state tests when the administrators are so incompetent.
Joanne bleeden January 26, 2012 at 04:42 PM
My eighth grade daughter pointed out a possible flaw in this new anti bullying law. How can they prove who "actually" made the threat? Teens can "hack" other teen's accounts and post "false" threats and such. Hopefully someone isn't "punished" until they are "proven" guilty. Unlike some of the "actions" I have seen in past "experiences" with vvsd.
Amber January 27, 2012 at 01:14 AM
I agree! While bullying is a very serious concern, there are several flaws with this law including what you pointed out. It is too easy for accounts to be hacked or if one student wishes to get another student in trouble they could create a fake account in that student's name. Or what about if a smart phone is stolen and someone gains access to a person's online accounts that way! How are they going to PROVE who actually did it? My cousin has come over and used my computer to check facebook then forgot to log off, I could have easily messed with her. And what do we expect from kids when some adults can't even refrain from bullying?!?! Some parents are just as bad and encourage their kids to act that way. Politicians are blasting ads pointing out flaws and name calling their opponents. You have Sarah Palin putting cross hairs on a map of Democrats, Jules Manson calling for the assassination of the president and his children on his facebook page. It is no wonder why so many kids see nothing wrong with bullying and harassing.
Pastor Suzanne Anderson-Hurdle January 27, 2012 at 09:51 PM
JoAnne and Amber, thanks for your comments. I am on the Anti-Bullying Task Force and will bring your concerns to our next team meeting. I would imagine that if there were a suspicion of online bullying, both the police and school district would work together to determine the validity of the threat and who is making it. But that's just what I'm thinking. I will talk to the team about it. I really appreciate what you say, too, Amber, about adults. I just spoke to someone about that today. We are always telling our kids to be nice to each other and yet we aren't always modeling that in our lives and we for sure don't see it much in the political or sports or celebrity world. Very sad. Joanne, feel free to contact me via email if you'd like to tell me more about your experience, if you think it would help the task force. I'm sorry that happened to your child and that you didn't receive a response that was helpful to you and her. You are not the first parent I've heard this from.

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