Friday, February 16, 2024

Legislation would fine Missouri school districts for being lax on disciplining bullies

By Quinn Coffman
Missouri school districts would have 10% of their funding revoked if they failed to report an incident of bullying under a bill heard in committee Wednesday.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Rep. John Black of Marshfield, seeks to use financial penalties to apply pressure to districts that aren’t pursuing bullying incidents in the way required by law.

“There are a lot of laws already on the books that try to keep bullying from occurring,” Black said. “But the laws that we have on the books right now don’t seem to be effective in some cases.”

Multiple Democratic lawmakers said that while they encourage legislation that would limit bullying, they worry the punishment envisioned by Black’s legislation that could endanger already-limited funding for schools.

“What stuck out to me at first was that 10%,” said state Rep. Marlene Terry, a St.Louis Democrat. “Because most of the time we’re in here fighting for schools to achieve … and teachers getting raises. So we definitely don’t want to take anything from the schools because of the bad behavior of others.”

Terry suggested that expulsion policies are effective punishment enough.

State Rep. Kathy Steinhoff, a Democrat from Columbia, was also surprised by the language that would withhold schools’ funding. Steinhoff herself was an educator for 34 years prior to joining the legislature. She also served in the past as an officer for the Columbia chapter of the National Education Association.

“You cannot control behavior, but you can certainly attempt to guide students,” Steinhoff said, “I think that’s what our current bullying laws do: guide students who are misbehaving in order to make sure everyone is safe. I just think it goes too far with the penalty provisions.”

However, Steinhoff said it’s possible that some anti-bullying legislation makes it out of their committee due to Black’s willingness to revise his bill and the general interest in the subject matter.

An important piece of the legislation is expanding the law’s definition of bullying to explicitly include the use of “notoriously offensive racial epithets.”

Black shared an anecdote involving multiple students who bullied their classmate using such abusive language, which escalated to destruction of the victim’s property and physical violence. According to Black, teachers and administrators at the school failed to act in defense of this student.

While Black admitted the law’s current definition of bullying would probably encompass the use of racial epithets, he said that it’s worth putting it explicitly in the law’s language.

But fellow Republicans criticized this addition for creating a subjective environment with an unclear explanation of what falls under the definition.

“This is a very wide definition, when it talks about notorious offensive racial epithets. Who would be the arbiter of what is notoriously offensive?” Rep. Ben Baker, R-Neosho said.

With this legislation, Black said he wanted to remind Missourians that legislators are interested in providing a safe environment for their children.

This story originally appeared in the Columbia Missourian.


Anonymous said...

"With this legislation, Black said he wanted to remind Missourians that legislators are interested in providing a safe environment for their children."

Republicans have demonstrated time and again that they do not care about children.

Anonymous said...

Weren't the Republicans just getting elected by complaining the schools weren't safe due to books they don't like, sex education, and libraries outta control?

Anonymous said...

Last I knew Republicans were against abortion… so there’s that

Anonymous said...

I’d like to think you would want your children to grow up as innocent as possible and not read about the sexual and moral deprivation, but you do you I guess, FYI there are only 2 genders

Anonymous said...

Don't drop off your kids at church if you want them to be safe from pedos

Anonymous said...

311, you sound like an ultra right-wing dumbass. Go get an education.

Anonymous said...

11:46 What are your pronouns, you’ve got to be a snowflake lib to get that angry over facts

Anonymous said...

201 is from the putin wing of the MAGAt cult. Obvious as you sound like you support the dictator agenda....hatred to anybody not white, straight and devoted to your narcissistic views. You obviously aspire to be a hate-filled bastard in the mold of trump,putin, and the other dictators. Suggest you Go get educated and see the historical results of your belief system.

Anonymous said...

5:25 He,Him,They,Them,She,Her,Non Bianary,Bianary, Trans,…….
If any of that makes sense to you, that’s called mental illness. If I identify as president of Mars and Saturn you would say I’m crazy. But you think a man can identify as woman and so forth. Why should I accept who you identify as when you cant accept who you are, and some how this is my problem.
This is what your party supports, and don’t forget about killing babies you sickos get off on this

Anonymous said...


As a straight white male, let me explain something to you.

It's not about you.

You are completely failing to respect your fellow citizen. What does it matter what they want to be called? Do you ask for peoples birth certificates so you can call them their 'correct' name? Didn't think so.

Also, nobody is killing babies. Please educate yourself on these issues.