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Legislative Update: Recruiting and Bullying Policies

Proposed legislation introduced in today’s session of the General Assembly includes Raised Bill 5868, An Act Concerning Recruiting at High Schools, and Raised Bill 649, An Act Concerning School Learning Environment.

RB 5868 would require all boards of education to adopt a written policy on or before January 1, 2009 regulating recruitment by the armed forces, prospective employers, colleges and other post-secondary institutions in high schools.  The policy proposed by this statute would prohibit the recruitment of any student under 15 years of age unless parental consent has been provided, would require the recruiter to obtain permission from the school principal before conducting recruiting, would require interview appointments to be set up through the guidance office, and would limit recruitment activities to designated areas of the school.  The required policies would also require parental notification that participation in recruitment activities is voluntary, and would require districts to release directory information about students to recruiters unless parents have opted out (with a required process for notification and opt-out as well).  Consistent with the Patriot Act, recruiters from the armed forces would have equal access to students as compared to other types of recruiters at high schools.

RB 649 would require the Department of Education to contract with the Yale Child Study Center (or another similar entity) to train Department employees concerning “child development and learning strategies through the integration of development and instructional programs that can lead to positive transformation of school culture and climate”, including but not limited to “development of a framework and organizing force to help school staff and parents create an in-school culture that promotes academic and life success”.  Then, once the Department employees have been trained by Yale, school districts would be able to apply for the opportunity to attend workshops given by those Department employees to train them on how to create a positive school climate.

The same bill would amend Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-222d (the bullying policy statute) to require that school districts go beyond development of an anti-bullying policy to the implementation of that policy, and would require the Department of Education to fine any school district $2500 to $5000 out of state funding grants for education for failing to implement the bullying policy.  The definition of bullying would be modified slightly from acts “repeated against the same student over time” to acts “committed more than once against any student during the school year”.

Also under this proposed bill, Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-22a(a) would be amended to require school districts to provide staff development opportunities on the subject of bullying prevention.