SB21-182: Bully Empowerment Bill
Last updated 4/6/2021 at 2:11pm | View PDF
The working title is actually CONCERNING SCHOOL DISCIPLINE, AND, IN CONNECTION THEREWITH, ADDRESSING DISPROPORTIONATE DISCIPLINARY PRACTICES AND CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM AND SUPPORTING STUDENTS AT RISK OF DROPPING OUT OF SCHOOL.
As always, the bill title speaks of noble goals; here, the key word is "disproportionate." It is statistical fact that some minority groups spend more time in detention, serve more days suspended from school, have more official contact with law enforcement and are at higher risk of dropping out. This bill makes the assumption that if you don't punish students for crimes they commit on school grounds and don't allow law enforcement on the school grounds to contact students for crimes they committed off the school grounds, all of those problems will go away. It also prohibits educators from reporting those crimes to law enforcement.
In all fairness, it is not all crimes. Simple assault on teachers and other students will now be OK at school as long as no bones are broken. Groping, fondling and sexual harassment would be allowed under this bill as long as it stops before becoming rape. Ironically, other minority groups are the most at risk to be singled out for those actions. The third-degree assault that the shooter in the recent Boulder killings was convicted of while in high school would no longer be a punishable offense.
Sheriff Cooper of Fremont County recently told me that the cry to defund the police was relatively minor compared to the harm this bill would do to public safety. The following is a completely unedited email I received from a very concerned young lady attending school in Colorado. She probably said it best.
"As a female student in the state of Colorado, the fact that the SB 21-182 may be passed makes me extremely uncomfortable. It is never OK for anyone to harm, grope, etc., another human being. And the SB 21-182 would simply allow all of these things to happen on school property with no consequences. What is this teaching students? It is teaching them that they can get away with disturbing crimes with no consequences. Teaching them that this is ok will simply tell them that they can go on to commit similar crimes once graduated from school. These habits won't go away if the schools are allowed to feed their violent or perverted tendencies. Furthermore, this will make schools an extremely unsafe and scary environment for both students and staff."
The bill has been introduced in the Senate and assigned to the Education Committee. No hearing date is set, but given it has almost half of the Senate Democrats already signed on as cosponsors it stands a good chance of passing. We need a few fair-minded Democrats to break with the party bosses to stand up and say it is time to protect the victims not the criminals, or bullies, if you prefer that term.
I welcome your thoughts and comments on the happenings here at the Capitol. Lots of ways to stay in touch; Office phone: 303-866-4877, Mobile phone: 719-351-2121, Email: [email protected], Twitter: @SenDennisHisey, Facebook: Senator Dennis Hisey