Safe Schools Law
History of the Law
Safe & Supportive Minnesota Schools Law
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Law
Click here to read the bill, House File 826.
This comprehensive law takes Minnesota from having the weakest antibullying law in the country to the strongest. It provides educators, parents and students with tools and resources they need for bullying prevention and intervention. The law also helps prevent bullying by reducing absences, suspensions and drop out rates, which will save Minnesota taxpayers money in the long run.
The Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention on the Prevention of School Bullying traveled the state talking to educators, parents and students. The recommendations that came out of those conversations became the Safe & Supportive Schools Law.
The law includes the following components:
● Clear definitions of bullying and intimidation
● Enumerated protections for students who are most likely to be bullied or harassed because of their actual or perceived race, color, creed, religion, disability, sex, age, national origin, immigration status, marital status, family status, socioeconomic status, status with regard to public assistance, academic status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, and gender identity or expression
● Training and resources for students, staff, and school volunteers on bullying prevention and intervention
● Specific procedures that school staff must follow when bullying incidents are reported, including the use of remedial responses that emphasize restorative justice to correct prohibited behavior
The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Law also establishes a School Safety Technical Assistance Center within the Department of Education. The center’s services include:
● Direct assistance for schools, parents, and students seeking information or help
● Policy review, development, and dissemination
● Identification of emerging trends and issues and support for school sites recovering from incidents
● Resources and opportunities for education, training, and skill building
History of the Bill and Current Efforts
In 2009, bipartisan majorities of Republicans and Democrats in the Minnesota legislature passed a Safe Schools for All Act that was vetoed by Governor Tim Pawlenty.
In November 2011, Governor Dayton announced the creation of a Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying. The Task Force was comprised of education professionals, issue experts, and members of the public. They researched best practices in bullying prevention and intervention and held listening sessions around the state where students and parents shared their experiences and concerns.
In August 2012, the Task Force finished its work and submitted final recommendations to school districts and legislators. Click HERE to read the final report.
In February 2013, Sen. Scott Dibble and Rep. Jim Davnie introduced a comprehensive anti-bullying bill called the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act (HF 826/SF 783).
In May 2013, the bill had passed all necessary committees in the House and Senate (nine total) and passed on the House Floor. With one week left in the legislative session, the bill still hadn’t been scheduled for a vote on the Senate Floor. The Minnesota Safe Schools for All Coalition mobilized hundreds of people from around the state to call their legislators and urge them to schedule the bill for a vote. The bill was finally scheduled for a vote the night before the session ended, but the bill didn’t make it to a Senate vote before the session ended.
In March 2014, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act passed through the Senate Education and Senate Finance committees, with many changes made during that time to strengthen the bill and alleviate the concerns of key participants.
In April 2014, the bill was put up to a vote in the Senate after five hours of debate and passed. Soon after, it faced ten hours of debate in the House of Representatives, but ultimately, the house voted to concur with the senate.
Finally, on April 9, 2014, Governor Dayton signed the Minnesota Safe and Supportive Schools Act into law.