Third, SF2318 creates another new bureaucracy, the Office for Support and Analysis for Safe Schools. It spends $250,000 for the establishment of this office. In addition, it spends $750,000 for the School Climate Improvement Grant Program. Again, this grant program will single out certain schools that will receive this money, while most schools are excluded. Good state policy should include all students in all schools
Fourth, the new bill requires additional training for all licensed and certified individuals prior to issuance or renewal of their teaching certificates, and incorporates this training into the standards for individual professional development plans. In addition the Senate bill, in certain circumstances, requires that “school officials shall investigate and respond appropriately to the alleged incident.” These provisions of the bill place a greater burden on the already heavy demands on our teachers and other school officials.
It’s helpful to look at the lobbyist declarations on this bill. Registered as “undecided” on the bill included the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Iowa State Police Association, the Iowa Department of Education, the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Iowa State Education Association and the Area Education Agencies. Those groups all recognized the serious flaws in this legislation, and did not support it.
In summary, the amendments we offered on this bill would have helped achieve our goal of addressing the “bully” problems in our schools without creating more bureaucracy, without additional demands on our teachers, and without unnecessary cost to taxpayers, while involving parents immediately in the process.
The bill did pass the Senate on a strictly party line vote with all Democrats supporting this flawed legislation, and all Republicans voting “no.” It’s my hope that the House can significantly improve the legislation and that when we leave Des Moines this year we will have strengthened our policy with respect to bullying, rather than weakened it.
Please join me at the upcoming forum at Monarchs in Pella at 9 a.m. on Saturday, March 29.
Sen. Ken Rozenboom