SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois General Assembly has passed a new bill that would require school principals to report bullying to parents within 24 hours.
House Bill 3425 passed the House in March and then the Senate in May.
According to The Center Square, school districts say the 24-hour time limit is unrealistic.
“We all monitor our emails and our voicemails at all times, even if we’re not on the clock,” Alison Maley, government and public relations director at the Illinois Principals Association, said, according to The Pantagraph. “We are concerned about what that would mean for an administrator if they happen to see an email at four o’clock on a Saturday. If they are out of town, if they’re on vacation.”
Mark Klaisner, the president of the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, said school districts have told him bullying that happens after school or on social media creates a unique problem for schools.
“If I were the principal who got a bullying report, I would go to the counselors and the social worker. I would talk to some of the teachers. Granted, I’d do that as quickly as possible because speed is critical,” he said. “But we can’t guarantee one day.”
Bullying in schools has become a major concern, as educators believe that bullying can lead to suicide or mass shootings.
“When you learn about the stories of kids who become active shooters, it is almost always some version of bullying or harassment,” Klaisner said.
The Illinois Department of Public Health says suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among Illinois children between 10 and 19.
Schools are currently required to renew their policies on bullying every other year, and the state is funding mental health programs to the tune of $8 million a year.
“Every district I know is trying to expand social-emotional learning. They are using additional dollars on mental health support, particularly social workers,” Klaisner said.
The bill also expands the official definition of bullying to include physical appearance, socioeconomic status, academic status, homelessness, pregnancy, and parenting status.
The Illinois State Board of Education would be required to create and share a model of a bullying and prevention policy by January 1st, 2024.
It would also be tasked with creating a database of bullying allegations which would then be available to parents or guardians.
The bill now heads to Gov. JB Pritzker to be signed into law.