Rep. Walz: Anti-Bullying Law Is Clear, Implementation Is The Issue

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It appears that dozens of Massachusetts school districts have not fully complied with the state’s new anti-bullying law.

Gov. Patrick signed anti-bullying legislation in May 2010 — a fact that Rep. Marty Walz, of Boston’s Back Bay, stresses.

“School districts and charter schools across the state have had nearly 12 months to step up and began doing what they need to do under the law,” she said. “And what we’re seeing is that far too many school districts and charter schools are refusing to do what they know will protect children.”

Some school district administrators have called this gaffe in compliance a paperwork oversight.

But Walz said meeting the minimum standards is a simple request. “What the anti-bullying plans are designed to do is create a framework for schools and parents and teachers and others to decide how they want to implement the law,” she said.

Walz said the law is clear in its requirements. The issue, she said, is implementation.

“Well there’s really two issues,” she said. “What’s the minimum requirements for the plan? But far more difficult is to begin to confront what’s going on in schools and changing school cultures. So if districts are struggling with the basic requirements in the plans, I do worry that they’re going to struggle with the harder task of changing school cultures.”

Confrontation by the public is the next step, according to Walz.

“In the end, school committee members are elected,” Walz said. “And it’s their responsibility, as school committee members, to comply with the law. And in my view, it’s parents and voters responsibilities to hold those school committees accountable for what’s going on in the schools.

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