With all the breaking news last week, I neglected to point out the governor signed two pieces of high-profile school legislation, an expansion of the bullying law and the business-backed school board reform bill. Here are statements on both bills:
First, a release from the Anti-Defamation League on the bullying bill:
Governor Sonny Perdue has signed into law an ADL-backed bill that provides Georgia schools with new tools for cracking down on bullying, including provisions that target the growing menace of cyber bullying.
S.B. 250 expands on previous state law, which covered just physical violence, to include “Any intentional written, verbal or physical act which a reasonable person would perceive as being intended to threaten, harass or intimidate.” The bill was sponsored by Republican State Representative Mike Jacobs, but also attracted broad-based bipartisan support.
“We applaud Rep. Jacobs, the legislature and Governor Perdue for taking steps to create a safer learning environment for Georgia students,” said Bill Nigut, Southeast Regional Director of ADL.
“As one of the leading providers of anti-bias diversity education training for schools, we are in contact with teachers and school administrators on a daily basis. And with few exceptions, all tell us that bullying to one degree or another is an issue in their individual schools,” Nigut said.
And here is the state release on the school board reforms:
Governor Sonny Perdue today signed into law Senate Bill 84, landmark school board governance legislation.
“SB 84 gives the state the ability to step in when a local school system’s accreditation is threatened. This bill strikes the appropriate balance between local control and state intervention when a system is in crisis,” said Gov. Perdue. “I want to thank my floor leaders, Rep. Jim Cole and Sen. Bill Heath, as well as our Education Committee Chairs, Rep. Brooks Coleman and Sen. Dan Weber for their hard work and leadership on this issue over the past two sessions.”
The legislation standardizes board ethics policies and board training, clarifies the law delineating the roles and responsibilities of superintendents and board members, creates minimum qualifications for board candidates, and gives the state the ability to find responsible citizens to serve on school boards when existing members fail to serve the interests of their students.
The Commission for School Board Excellence met, held hearings and conducted research to come up with a set of recommendations for best practices in school board governance. The Commission for School Board Excellence Co-Chairs John Rice, Gary Price and Phil Jacobs, along with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and other business leaders, produced strong recommendations making Georgia a model state going forward.
Gov. Perdue originally included SB 84 in his legislative package during the 2009 session. After failing to receive final approval last year, a renewed push this year saw the bill pass with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate.