Governor Brown recently signed into law Assembly Bill (AB) 1455, which authorizes a superintendent or principal to refer bullying victims and witnesses to various school support services. The law will apply to acts of bullying committed on or after January 1, 2015.
The Education Code currently allows the superintendent and principal to use alternatives to suspension and expulsion for students who commit various acts of misconduct, including bullying. These alternatives include referring the students to the school counselor, psychologist or social worker for case management and counseling. The Education Code does not currently authorize administrators to direct victims of bullying to these same support services.
AB 1455 adds section 48900.9 to the Education Code, which will essentially allow the superintendent or principal to provide the same types of services to victims of or witnesses to bullying as those offered to the students who commit bullying. Any student affected by bullying, as defined in Education Code section 48900, may be referred to the school counselor, nurse, social worker, or child welfare personnel for case management and counseling or for participation in a restorative justice program.
AB 1455 will provide administrators with additional options for supporting students who have been victims of or witnesses to bullying. California law requires school districts to have policies in place for addressing and investigating instances of bullying. Teachers and staff members are required to intervene to stop bullying if it is safe to do so. It is important to remember that bullying may include electronic conduct occurring both on and off campus. (See 2013 Lozano Smith Client News Brief No. 77
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