Delaware Combats Cyberbullying

In light of recent issues that have come to national attention, Delaware is leading the way in reform against cyberbullying.  Based on proposals from the Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor, and Education Committee Chairs, two bills that combat cyberbullying were signed into law in this state.

Leading up to the signing of SB 193 and HB 268, leaders conducted statewide public hearings.  These hearing were used to gather factual evidence from school officials and parents about bullying.

SB 193 will allow for the Department of Education to issue a final cyberbullying policy.  Each public and private school will be required within a 90 day period to adopt the policy.  SB 193 also allows the Attorney General’s office to defend schools that may face  a legal challenge due to the implementation of the cyberbullying policy.  Lt. Governor Denn said, “This statewide policy will allow schools to clearly tell students what type of social media conduct is unacceptable, and it will provide legal support from the Attorney General’s office for districts where the policy is challenged.”

HB 268 is designed to protect students against cyberbullying by requiring consistency in the reporting of bullying incidents among all schools.  The Department of Education will use this legislation to being auditing a number of schools every year, with the intent of ensuring the schools are properly investigating and reporting all bullying incidents.  HB 268 further requires school to report both substantiated and “unsubstantiated” incidents of bullying to the Department of Education.

Representative Terry Schooley, the lead House sponsor of both bills said, “Bullying in any form creates fear and intimidation in our schools, and it leads to students performing poorly, not going to school for fear of being bullied or in some cases, committing suicide. When you take into account that means of communication such as social media, computers and cell phones post information far more publicly than previous generations could ever imagine, the issue becomes even more serious. By signing these bills into law, we are trying to increase reporting and stay ahead of the curve to protect our children and grandchildren.”

This post was prepared by Chelsea Keenan Albany Law School ’14

 

 

State Super Control Board Taking Over Struggling New York Local Governments?

In recent news it has been stated that New York Gov. Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are looking to propose legislation that would create a state super control board.  The board that would take over the finances of struggling local governments on the verge of bankruptcy, including cities, towns, villages, and counties.

Of course public labor unions oppose such legislation because it would allow the state to violate union contracts, which represent one of the largest local government expenditures.

Such control boards are not uncommon in New York and have been set in place at the local level.  The governments of Troy, Buffalo, Yonkers, and Nassau County have been under finance control boards because they were on the verge of an economic crisis.  It was reported that currently 300 local governments ran deficits and more than 100 local governments do not have enough to pay the bills.

The proposed legislation was described as not “…completely replac[ing] the locally elected official.  But it would provide them with the political ‘cover’ many privately say they need to stand up to the powerful unions, which have consistently resisted spending cuts.”

Conflicting reports show that Comptroller DiNapoli has not been in discussions with Gov. Cuomo and he believes it is premature for the installation of such a board.   In a press conference DiNapoli emphasized that the idea needs to be examined in more detail.