Missouri State Representative Sue Allen, (R) Town and Country, plans to reintroduce bullying legislation later this year that will require school districts to establish their own bullying policies and put them in writing so school staff, parents and students have clear steps to follow when filing complaints.
Allen tells Patch.com, this move is not a reaction to the recent news of an "ugly tradition" in the form of a senior list that's been reportedly circulating within the Ladue School District for more than a decade. However, she said that incident is an example of why school districts need to have clear policies and guidelines in place for bullying.
"I was going to reintroduce it anyway," Allen said. "This just follows up the issue of local control."
Allen is a friend and supporter of the mother who recently brought the incident to light. That mother is pushing the Ladue School District to take action to stop the circulation of the list. However, the district reportedly told the parent it has tried to stop the list that includes vulgarities about senior girls by other students, but has not been able to.
As previously reported by Patch, Allen tried last year to introduce bullying legislation to require districts to put policies in place. She tells Patch the bill didn't make it through the Missouri Senate due to concern the schools wouldn't have local control of their own policies.
"It's not to tell them what their guidelines are or what their policies are. It's to tell them to have them," Allen explained of her proposal.
Allen said she understands that other districts want local control and believes they should have it. Her bill allows them to identify their policies and then put their guidelines in writing. She wants that from each school district across the state.
In December, Allen plans to again push the same bullying legislation that she did last year. It will not limit bullying to specific categories or traits, including sexual orientation, but is designed to encompass bullying behavior overall for all students.
"If the enumeration of the sexual orientation is listed in our state bill, it would not pass," Allen tells Patch. In an effort to get the bullying legislation passed this time, she will once again not include specifics when she reintroduces the bill later this year. "I want to improve the bullying bill."