As school begins, new anti-bullying law goes into effect

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As Minnesota students head back to school Tuesday, they will be protected under a new anti-bullying law.

Formally known as the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, the new anti-bullying law passed the state Legislature in April.

“Minnesota’s schools should be safe and supportive places for everyone,” Gov. Mark Dayton said as he signed the bill into law. “This anti-bullying legislation will make it very clear that bullying is not to be allowed in our schools.”

The Rochester Post Bulletin says Rochester Public Schools is among the districts working on updating its anti-bullying policy, and is expected to pass it at the Sept. 16 school board meeting.

Other schools have already adapted the policy. According to Valley News Live, Moorhead Public Schools updated its policies early last month.

"We took a model policy from the Minnesota School Board Association and adapted it according to new laws in Minnesota," Moorhead Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Lynne Kovash said.

The state’s new Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act replaces a 37-word anti-bullying law, which was commonly called one of the weakest in the nation. The old law merely directed districts to have some sort of anti-bullying policy.

The Safe and Supportive Schools Act requires districts to track and investigate cases of bullying, and also requires schools to offer training to staff in how to prevent bullying. The law also further defines bullying. It notes, in part, that bullying causes physical harm or fear of physical harm and “constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress.”

According to FOX 9, private and home schools are exempt from the state's new anti-bullying law, although private schools are encouraged to share their anti-bullying policies and incident summaries. Charter schools are also required to follow the law.

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