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Substitute House Bill No. 5826

Public Act No. 08-160

AN ACT CONCERNING SCHOOL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (Effective from passage) Section 1 of public act 07-66 shall take effect July 1, 2009.

Sec. 2. Subsection (g) of section 10-233c of the 2008 supplement to the general statutes, as amended by section 2 of public act 07-66, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2008):

(g) [Suspensions] On and after July 1, 2009, suspensions pursuant to this section shall be in-school suspensions, unless during the hearing held pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the administration determines that the pupil being suspended poses such a danger to persons or property or such a disruption of the educational process that the pupil shall be excluded from school during the period of suspension. An in-school suspension may be served in the school that the pupil attends, or in any school building under the jurisdiction of the local or regional board of education, as determined by such board.

Sec. 3. (Effective from passage) Not later than October 1, 2008, the Commissioner of Education shall issue guidelines to aid local and regional boards of education in making the determination as to whether a suspension of a pupil should be an out-of-school suspension or whether the suspension should be an in-school suspension pursuant to the provisions of section 10-233c of the 2008 supplement to the general statutes, as amended by this act.

Sec. 4. Section 10-222d of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2008):

Each local and regional board of education shall develop and implement a policy [, for use on and after February 1, 2003,] to address the existence of bullying in its schools. Such policy shall: (1) Enable students to anonymously report acts of bullying to teachers and school administrators and require students to be notified annually of the process by which they may make such reports, (2) enable the parents or guardians of students to file written reports of suspected bullying, (3) require teachers and other school staff who witness acts of bullying or receive student reports of bullying to notify school administrators in writing, (4) require school administrators to investigate any written reports [filed pursuant to subdivision (2) of] made under this section and to review any anonymous reports, except that no disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report, (5) include [an] a prevention and intervention strategy, as defined by this act, for school staff to deal with bullying, (6) provide for the inclusion of language in student codes of conduct concerning bullying, (7) require each school to notify the parents or guardians of students who commit any verified acts of bullying and the parents or guardians of students against whom such acts were directed, [to be notified] and invite them to attend at least one meeting, (8) require each school to maintain a list of the number of verified acts of bullying in such school and make such list available for public inspection, and, within available appropriations, report such number to the Department of Education, annually and in such manner as prescribed by the Commissioner of Education, (9) direct the development of case-by-case interventions for addressing repeated incidents of bullying against a single individual or recurrently perpetrated bullying incidents by the same individual that may include both counseling and discipline, and (10) identify the appropriate school personnel, which may include, but shall not be limited to, pupil services personnel, responsible for taking a bullying report and investigating the complaint. The notification required pursuant to subdivision (7) of this section shall include a description of the response of school staff to such acts and any consequences that may result from the commission of further acts of bullying. For purposes of this section, "bullying" means any overt acts by a student or a group of students directed against another student with the intent to ridicule, harass, humiliate or intimidate the other student while on school grounds, at a school-sponsored activity or on a school bus, which acts are [repeated against the same student over time] committed more than once against any student during the school year. Such policies may include provisions addressing bullying outside of the school setting if it has a direct and negative impact on a student's academic performance or safety in school. Not later than February 1, 2009, each local and regional board of education shall submit the policy developed pursuant to this section to the Department of Education. Not later than July 1, 2009, each local or regional board of education shall ensure that the policy is included in the school district's publication of the rules, procedures and standards of conduct for schools and in all student handbooks.

Sec. 5. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2008) For the purposes of section 10-222d of the general statutes, as amended by this act, the term "prevention and intervention strategy" may include, but is not limited to, (1) implementation of a positive behavioral interventions and supports process or another evidence-based model approach for safe school climate or for the prevention of bullying identified by the Department of Education, (2) a school survey to determine the prevalence of bullying, (3) establishment of a bullying prevention coordinating committee with broad representation to review the survey results and implement the strategy, (4) school rules prohibiting bullying, harassment and intimidation and establishing appropriate consequences for those who engage in such acts, (5) adequate adult supervision of outdoor areas, hallways, the lunchroom and other specific areas where bullying is likely to occur, (6) inclusion of grade-appropriate bullying prevention curricula in kindergarten through high school, (7) individual interventions with the bully, parents and school staff, and interventions with the bullied child, parents and school staff, (8) school-wide training related to safe school climate, and (9) promotion of parent involvement in bullying prevention through individual or team participation in meetings, trainings and individual interventions.

Sec. 6. Subsection (a) of section 10-220a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2009):

(a) Each local or regional board of education shall provide an in-service training program for its teachers, administrators and pupil personnel who hold the initial educator, provisional educator or professional educator certificate. Such program shall provide such teachers, administrators and pupil personnel with information on (1) the nature and the relationship of drugs, as defined in subdivision (17) of section 21a-240, and alcohol to health and personality development, and procedures for discouraging their abuse, (2) health and mental health risk reduction education which includes, but need not be limited to, the prevention of risk-taking behavior by children and the relationship of such behavior to substance abuse, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV-infection and AIDS, as defined in section 19a-581, violence, child abuse and youth suicide, (3) the growth and development of exceptional children, including handicapped and gifted and talented children and children who may require special education, including, but not limited to, children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or learning disabilities, and methods for identifying, planning for and working effectively with special needs children in a regular classroom, (4) school violence prevention, [and] conflict resolution and prevention of bullying, as defined in subsection (a) of section 10-222d, as amended by this act, except that those boards of education that implement an evidence-based model approach, consistent with this act, shall not be required to provide in-service training on prevention of bullying, (5) cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other emergency life saving procedures, (6) computer and other information technology as applied to student learning and classroom instruction, communications and data management, (7) the teaching of the language arts, reading and reading readiness for teachers in grades kindergarten to three, inclusive, and (8) second language acquisition in districts required to provide a program of bilingual education pursuant to section 10-17f. The State Board of Education, within available appropriations and utilizing available materials, shall assist and encourage local and regional boards of education to include: (A) Holocaust education and awareness; (B) the historical events surrounding the Great Famine in Ireland; (C) African-American history; (D) Puerto Rican history; (E) Native American history; (F) personal financial management; and (G) topics approved by the state board upon the request of local or regional boards of education as part of in-service training programs pursuant to this subsection.

Sec. 7. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2009) (a) The Department of Education shall, within available appropriations, (1) review and analyze the policies submitted to the department pursuant to section 10-222d of the general statutes, as amended by this act, (2) examine the relationship between bullying, school climate and student outcomes, (3) document school districts' articulated needs for technical assistance and training related to safe learning and bullying, (4) collect information on the prevention and intervention strategies used by schools to reduce the incidence of bullying, improve school climate and improve reporting outcomes, and (5) develop model policies for grades kindergarten to twelve, inclusive, for the prevention of bullying. On or before February 1, 2010, the department shall, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, submit a report on the status of its efforts pursuant to this section and any recommendations it may have regarding additional activities or funding to prevent bullying in schools and improve school climate, to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education and to the select committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to children.

(b) The department may accept private donations for the purposes of this section.

Sec. 8. Subsection (d) of section 10-145a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2009):

(d) Any candidate in a program of teacher preparation leading to professional certification shall be encouraged to complete a school violence, bullying and suicide prevention and conflict resolution component of such a program.

Approved June 12, 2008