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Ann Gettis of Kenyon, Minn., told the hearing that her son was bullied relentlessly and committed suicide in 2006.
She said through tears, “I believe my son’s unbearable pain and sadness was preventable,” and she implored the committee to pass the bill.
A majority of the speakers supported the legislation, but there were at least a couple who opposed it, including a mother from Champlin who said it would do teens more harm than good.
Katherine Kersten, a former Star Tribune columnist who still contributes to the paper’s opinion pages, said the bill could prove to be “an administrative nightmare for school officials,” who, she said, might be required to police students’ cell phones and Internet activity 24 hours a day.
’09 bill, ’12 task force
In 2009, a Safe Schools for All bill passed both the House and the Senate but was vetoed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said, in part, that the existing law was sufficient because it prohibits bullying “against any student for any reason.”
Last year, Gov. Mark Dayton established a task force on prevention of school bullying. It issued a report in August with recommendations to school districts and legislators.
The bill passed by the House committee Thursday would establish a School Climate Center within the Department of Education. The center would offer assistance to students, parents and schools, review policy and interpret data of reported bullying.
“I don’t think bullying is going to go away,” said Schuette, who plans to go to culinary school. “But we can make a difference in how it’s handled.”
Paul Levy • 612-673-4419