It is a story that is all too often in the news: A child is subjected to torturous cyberbullying by his or her peers via social media. Threatening messages sent on Facebook, humiliating comments about their appearance on Twitter, and other such nonsense drives the student to lash out, possibly hurting themselves, their peers, or both.
Schools no doubt serve a protective function and are charged with ensuring students have access to a free, appropriate education in an environment that is safe, secure, and nurturing. To help achieve that end, some states are taking strong measures to bolster the authority and power of school districts with regard to investigating instances of bullying, even if such negative behaviors do not occur on school property or within the bounds of the school day.
The Illinois Law
In an attempt to curb cyberbullying behaviors, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law, enacted January 1st of this year, that allows public school districts to demand access to students’ personal social media accounts if the student is suspected of violating school rules.
A letter sent home to parents in Triad Community Schools in Illinois, obtained by Motherboard, outlines the new policy:
“School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking site contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.”
Leigh Lewis, the superintendent of Triad Community Schools, clarified the parent letter by saying that the district understands privacy concerns and that school officials “will not haphazardly request social media passwords unless there is a need.” Lewis also asserted that should a situation arise, parents would be involved in the process.
Lawmakers and state education officials drafted the law because of the potential impact that online threats – made at school, at home . . . read more
Source: The Center for Effective Discipline
Marion County Florida: A Unique Case
In 2010, officials in Marion County, Florida banned the use of corporal punishment in their schools after determining that it was in ineffective method of reprimanding students. However, in 2013, the Marion County . . . read more
Graph from HechingerEd
These disparities have been known for some time in middle schools and high schools, however, this report reveals that unfair discipline procedures begin as early as preschool. The data, which was collected from 97,000 public schools from across the country, paints a troubling picture:
- Black and Latino students are consistently punished more severely than white students for the same infractions.
- Nearly 50 percent of preschool children who are suspended multiple times are black, yet black children represent less than one-fifth of the preschool population.
- Black students are far more likely to be referred to law enforcement or arrested for a school-based offense than white students or other students of color.
- Black girls are suspended at a much higher rate than girls of any other race.
- Students with disabilities, who represent only 12 percent of the public school population, account for almost 60 percent of students who are placed in seclusion.