Garcia introduces cyberbullying legislation

BELL GARDENS - In a move to update state law dealing with student bullying on and off campus, Assemblymember Cristina Garcia has introduced her first legislative proposal, AB 256.Current law defines bullying as harassment or threats that are used to intimidate students, disrupt the classroom, invade the right of the students and create a hostile educational environment. Students in grades 4-12 who perpetrate such behavior can be suspended or expelled if the bullying occurs while traveling to and from school, on campus during school hours or during or traveling to a school sponsored activity. According to Garcia, the law is silent on cyberbullying, where students use computers, smartphones and social media to harass and threaten other students at any time or location they choose. "My legislation is intended to reach beyond the schoolyard and stop bullying, wherever or whenever it happens," Garcia said. "Bullying is unacceptable behavior that should not be tolerated in any way, shape or form, including harassment through electronic communications." Under current law, a bully can not be suspended or expelled from school unless the act is related to school activity or takes place during school, Garcia said. She sees her legislation as "closing a large loophole in a law that was written before the explosive growth of electronic devices and instant communication." The bill is currently in the Assembly Rules Committee awaiting assignment to a policy committee for further action.

********** Published: February 14, 2013 - Volume 11 - Issue 44