With the passing of David’s Law (SB 179) — which states that a single, significant act might be sufficient to meet the definition of bullying — the Stephenville ISD board of trustees discussed updates to the code of conduct, ultimately approving it Monday night.
David’s Law is named for David Molak, a 16-year-old student who took his own life after being cyberbullied.
“This just came out last week and the big changes are in the bullying section,” said SISD Executive Director of Human Resources & Student Services Kathy Haynes.
The updates came from the Texas Education Code and besides bullying and cyberbullying, “Breach of Computer Security” was another addition to the code.
“Breach of computer security includes knowingly accessing a computer, computer network or computer system without the effective consent of the owner as defined in Texas Penal Code 33.02, if the conduct involves accessing a computer, computer network, or computer system owned by or operated on behalf of a school district; and the student knowingly alters, damages, or deletes school district property or information,” the code states. “Or commits a breach of any other computer, computer network, or computer system.”
Bullying and cyberbullying are also defined in the code.
“Bullying is defined as a single significant act or a pattern of acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves engaging in written or verbal expression, expression through electronic means, or physical conduct,” the code states.
There was a list of effects that includes physical harm; damage to property; creating an intimidating, threatening or abusive environment; disrupting the educational process or classroom operations; and infringing on the rights of the victim at school.
“Bullying includes cyberbullying. This state law on bullying prevention applies to bullying that occurs on or is delivered to school property or to the site of a school-sponsored or school-related activity on or off school property,” the code states. “Cyberbullying that occurs off school property or outside of a school-sponsored or school-related activity if the cyberbullying interferes with a student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupts the orderly operation of a classroom, school or school-sponsored or school-related activity.”
Cyberbullying is defined as bullying done through any electronic communication device.
David's Law requires public schools to have a method for students to anonymously report cyberbullying, to which SISD Superintendent Matt Underwood said is already in place.
“At the junior high we had some bully box, but I think they moved to an electronic way of doing it when the iPads came in, but normally what happens is the kid comes and tells the teacher or the principal," Underwood said. "(The schools) cover this at the beginning of the school year and it’s a digital citizenship curriculum that also talks about social media and the dangers."
More details on the code of conduct and student handbook can be found by visiting the SISD website at www.sville.us.
The board also approved option two of the proposed tax rate and budget, which is having the M&O (Maintenance & Operations) at $1.17 per $100 of evaluation and the I&S (Interest & Sinking) at $0.0649 per $100 of evaluation for a total of $1.2349 per $100 of evaluation estimating the General Fund revenues at $31,881,106 and an estimated $29,760,719 of expenditures.
The proposed Debt Service Fund revenues would be estimated at $1,287,540 and the estimated expenditures would be $2,679,338 with a $1,400,000 general funds commitment.
The tax rate will remain the same as it has the past couple of years.