Hawaii education board reviews stronger anti-bullying rules

HONOLULU — Hawaii Board of Education members have decided that the proposed harsher regulations against bullying and harassment in public schools need more work before a public hearing.

Committee members asked the Department of Education to incorporate suggestions from advocates for special education and LGBTQ students and present a new draft at the board’s October general meeting, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .

Board of Education members got their first look Thursday at the proposed regulations.

The council wants the regulations to spell out timelines for parental notification of investigations, for example, rather than using a phrase like “as soon as possible.”

The overhaul comes as part of an agreement the department signed with the U.S. Office of Civil Rights after the office conducted a compliance review. The proposed rules incorporate a dozen items to protect students required by the agreement.

One is the establishment of a clear complaint process for students.

The issue stalled for several years during the federal compliance review, and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto urged the board not to delay much longer.

“There is a lot of interest in the community for this board to take action and get this done,” she said.

Several board members on Thursday suggested that bullying be elevated to the most serious level in the discipline code, a Class A offense, a category that now includes assault, possession of firearms and drugs.

The discipline code ranges from Class A to Class D offenses. Bullying and cyberbullying are now in Class B.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com

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