A new California law, AB256, authored by Christina Garcia(D-Bell Gardens) and went into effect starting January 1, provides school officials with more authority to punish cyberbullying.
Prior to the enactment of the law, a bully could not be suspended or expelled for cyberbullying unless the act was related to school activity. However, the bully can now be punished even if cyberbullying originated outside of school.
Elena Lee, spokeswoman for Garcia, commented “now we can actually deal with [cyberbullying].”
Originally, the Association of California School Administrators opposed measure, calling it far-reaching. When these concerns were addressed in the bill, they withdrew their opposition. However, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) still opposed the legislation.
“Suspension and expulsion are types of exclusionary discipline which simply remove students from the classroom or school without addressing the actual cause of the student misbehavior… Instead of reducing the likelihood of behavioral incidents, school suspensions appear to predict higher future rates of misbehavior and suspension among those students who were suspended,” stated Tiffany Mock, a member of ACLU’s legislative counsel.
Key component of the legislation is that cyberbullying must be deemed “reasonably likely to cause a substantial disruption to a school activity” for disciplinary action to be executed.
Providing a different perspective, Trevor Greenan, a Santa Rose High School senior, commented “generally, I’m not usually for this kind of thing but I feel like there isn’t that much that is able to be abused… Teachers and administrators aren’t going to go out of their way to follow (students’) Facebook pages… I see them more doing it…if something comes up at school.”
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