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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Linda Runbeck (R)

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Who is in charge of our schools?

Friday, March 07, 2014

To the Editor:

When it comes to education, the ultimate question is, “Who’s in charge of our schools?” Is it the school boards, the parents or the Democrat majority in our state?

Democrats and their special interests think they should be in charge. They're using their muscle to push an anti-bullying bill that is an affront to our local schools and the Constitution as well.

The anti-bullying bill (H.F. 826) is aimed at “protected classes” instead of all students who might be victims of bullying. The bill tries to define bullying (words, even looks – very subjective), requires schools to investigate each incident and report to the state (an administrative nightmare), and takes away parental rights to know (due process) what is happening to their child.

If that weren’t enough, the bill opens up schools and teachers to lawsuits by assuring every child has a “right” to a positive school environment – again, totally subjective, but it will trigger lawsuits. Mandated training of school volunteers as well as teachers and staff will be required. The bill also anticipates a cost of $40 million to administer which means fewer dollars in the classroom.  Most concerning, the bill infringes on the First Amendment (right of free speech) and the Sixth Amendment (right to confront accusers).  

You have to wonder why Democrat legislators support H.F. 826 given that Minnesota already has an anti-bullying law. Aren’t they concerned about the mandated costs, parental rights, the rights of the accused, or kids in “unprotected” classes? Could it be this is another example of the Democrat coalition engaging in political payback to their friends? Unlike Democrats, I have confidence in our education professionals to detect and address bullying and do not believe our state is the “weakest in the nation” at stemming this problem.

The Democrat majority's politics on H.F. 826 are trumping good education policy at the expense of students, teachers, parents and school boards, and doing so while trampling fundamental principles of governance and local control of our schools. Minnesotans should be very, very concerned.

State Rep. Linda Runbeck, R-Circle Pines

District 38A



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