Florida Senate - 2021                                    SB 1514
       By Senator Book
       32-01283-21                                           20211514__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to bullying in public K-12 educational
    3         institutions; amending s. 1006.147, F.S.; revising the
    4         definition of the term “bullying”; requiring school
    5         districts to adopt and review every 3 years a zero
    6         tolerance policy prohibiting bullying and harassment
    7         of a student or employee of a public K-12 educational
    8         institution; requiring a district’s policy to
    9         substantially conform to the Department of Education’s
   10         model zero-tolerance policy; requiring a district’s
   11         policy to contain specified consequences for a student
   12         who commits an act of bullying or harassment;
   13         requiring the Department of Education to fine a
   14         district school board if the department finds the
   15         district school board has failed to enforce the school
   16         district’s zero-tolerance policy; specifying the
   17         amounts for the fine; authorizing a district school
   18         board to require a teacher to pay half of the fine if
   19         the failure was due to an act or omission of the
   20         teacher; requiring a district school board to deny
   21         employment to or terminate a principal or teacher
   22         responsible for three enforcement failures; requiring
   23         the department to transfer any sums collected to the
   24         Chief Financial Officer to be deposited in the General
   25         Revenue Fund; providing an effective date.
   27  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   29         Section 1. Paragraph (a) of subsection (3) and subsection
   30  (4) of section 1006.147, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   31         1006.147 Bullying and harassment prohibited.—
   32         (3) For purposes of this section:
   33         (a) “Bullying” includes cyberbullying and means
   34  systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or
   35  psychological distress on one or more students and may involve:
   36         1. Teasing, including unkind words;
   37         2. Social exclusion;
   38         3. Threat;
   39         4. Intimidation;
   40         5. Stalking;
   41         6. Intentionally touching another person against the
   42  person’s will or without his or her consent;
   43         7. Physical violence;
   44         8.7. Theft;
   45         9.8. Sexual, religious, or racial harassment;
   46         10.9. Public or private humiliation; or
   47         11.10. Destruction of property.
   48         (4) Each school district shall adopt and review at least
   49  every 3 years a zero-tolerance policy prohibiting bullying and
   50  harassment of a student or employee of a public K-12 educational
   51  institution. Each school district’s zero-tolerance policy shall
   52  be in substantial conformity with the Department of Education’s
   53  model zero-tolerance policy. The school district bullying and
   54  harassment zero-tolerance policy shall afford all students the
   55  same protection regardless of their status under the law. The
   56  school district may establish separate discrimination policies
   57  that include categories of students. The school district shall
   58  involve students, parents, teachers, administrators, school
   59  staff, school volunteers, community representatives, and local
   60  law enforcement agencies in the process of adopting and
   61  reviewing the zero-tolerance policy. The school district zero
   62  tolerance policy must be implemented by each school principal in
   63  a manner that is ongoing throughout the school year and
   64  integrated with the school’s curriculum, bullying prevention and
   65  intervention program, discipline policies, and other violence
   66  prevention efforts.
   67         (a) The school district zero-tolerance policy must contain,
   68  at a minimum, the following components:
   69         1.(a) A statement prohibiting bullying and harassment.
   70         2.(b) A definition of bullying and a definition of
   71  harassment that include the definitions listed in this section.
   72         3.(c) A description of the type of behavior expected from
   73  each student and employee of a public K-12 educational
   74  institution.
   75         4.(d) The consequences for a student or employee of a
   76  public K-12 educational institution who commits an act of
   77  bullying or harassment. The school district’s zero-tolerance
   78  policy concerning the consequences for a student who commits an
   79  act of bullying or harassment must provide for all of the
   80  following:
   81         a. For a first act of bullying or harassment, the student
   82  and his or her parent shall sign a written report prepared by
   83  the school which documents the incident. A school guidance
   84  counselor and the school principal shall also sign the report.
   85         b. For a second act of bullying or harassment, an in-person
   86  meeting must occur between the student, his or her parent, a
   87  school guidance counselor, and the school principal. The school
   88  shall also prepare a written report in accordance with this
   89  subparagraph.
   90         c. For a third act of bullying or harassment, the school’s
   91  principal shall recommend the expulsion of the student to the
   92  district school superintendent pursuant to s. 1006.09.
   93         5.(e) The consequences for a student or employee of a
   94  public K-12 educational institution who is found to have
   95  wrongfully and intentionally accused another of an act of
   96  bullying or harassment.
   97         6.(f) A procedure for receiving reports of an alleged act
   98  of bullying or harassment, including provisions that permit a
   99  person to anonymously report such an act. However, this
  100  subparagraph paragraph does not permit formal disciplinary
  101  action to be based solely on an anonymous report.
  102         7.(g) A procedure for the prompt investigation of a report
  103  of bullying or harassment and the persons responsible for the
  104  investigation. The investigation of a reported act of bullying
  105  or harassment is deemed to be a school-related activity and
  106  begins with a report of such an act. Incidents that require a
  107  reasonable investigation when reported to appropriate school
  108  authorities shall include alleged incidents of bullying or
  109  harassment allegedly committed against a child while the child
  110  is en route to school aboard a school bus or at a school bus
  111  stop.
  112         8.(h) A process to investigate whether a reported act of
  113  bullying or harassment is within the scope of the district
  114  school system and, if not, a process for referral of such an act
  115  to the appropriate jurisdiction. Computers without web-filtering
  116  software or computers with web-filtering software that is
  117  disabled shall be used when complaints of cyberbullying are
  118  investigated.
  119         9.(i) A procedure for providing immediate notification to
  120  the parents of a victim of bullying or harassment and the
  121  parents of the perpetrator of an act of bullying or harassment,
  122  as well as notification to all local agencies where criminal
  123  charges may be pursued against the perpetrator.
  124         10.(j) A procedure to refer victims and perpetrators of
  125  bullying or harassment for counseling.
  126         11.(k) A procedure for including incidents of bullying or
  127  harassment in the school’s report of data concerning school
  128  safety and discipline required under s. 1006.09(6). The report
  129  must include each incident of bullying or harassment and the
  130  resulting consequences, including discipline and referrals. The
  131  report must include in a separate section each alleged incident
  132  of bullying or harassment that does not meet the criteria of a
  133  prohibited act under this section with recommendations regarding
  134  such incidents. The department of Education shall aggregate
  135  information contained in the reports.
  136         12.(l) A list of programs authorized by the school district
  137  that provide instruction to students, parents, teachers, school
  138  administrators, counseling staff, and school volunteers on
  139  identifying, preventing, and responding to bullying or
  140  harassment, including instruction on recognizing behaviors that
  141  lead to bullying and harassment and taking appropriate
  142  preventive action based on those observations.
  143         13.(m) A procedure for regularly reporting to a victim’s
  144  parents the actions taken to protect the victim.
  145         14.(n) A procedure for publicizing the policy, which must
  146  include its publication in the code of student conduct required
  147  under s. 1006.07(2) and in all employee handbooks.
  148         (b)1. The department shall fine a district school board if
  149  the department finds that the district school board has failed
  150  to enforce the school district’s zero-tolerance policy
  151  prohibiting bullying and harassment of a student or employee of
  152  a public K-12 educational institution overseen by the district
  153  school board. The department shall fine a district school board
  154  $5,000 for a first offence, $10,000 for a second offence, and
  155  $25,000 for a third or subsequent offense.
  156         2. If the district school board’s failure was due to an act
  157  or omission by a teacher employed by the district school board,
  158  then the district school board may require the teacher to pay
  159  half of the fine to the district school board.
  160         3. The district school board shall deny employment to or
  161  terminate a school principal or teacher responsible for three
  162  failures to enforce the district school board’s policy.
  163         4. The department shall transfer any sums collected under
  164  this paragraph to the Chief Financial Officer to be deposited in
  165  the General Revenue Fund.
  166         Section 2. This act shall take effect July 1, 2021.