I-Team: School Bullying
Updated: Monday, March 18 2013, 12:03 PM EDT
LANSING, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - A little over a year ago, state lawmakers passed an anti-bullying measure requiring that all schools come up with policies that protect students from bullying.
Are these policies truly protecting our kids though?
The Newschannel 3 I-Team raised some questions about the way the law was written.
And what we found out may leave parents shocked.
Earlier in this week's series of School Security investigations, we told you how there are discrepancies in crime statistics that school districts have to report by law.
We reported that some districts report very accurately, while others in the words of a state educator were "slip-shoddy" about it.
In all of our research, we also found that bullying numbers just aren't being added up.
We've been tracking the bullying problem for years at Newschannel 3, and have heard the horrible stories from the youngest in our community.
When lawmakers passed an anti-bullying measure in 2011, they hoped school leaders would put the issue on the top of their agenda.
But the I-Team began dissecting the law recently, and consequently made a surprising discovery--in 2013, there will be no comprehensive bullying data available to the State Department of Education.
We found that the new anti-bullying law mandates lots of education and policies to school districts to try and help kids, but there's no data reporting or accountability.
There's a legal reason why the data isn't required by law--the collection of it could be considered an unfunded mandate, and state law and several court decisions prevent unfunded mandates to school districts.
Add in the fact that the federal grand funds ran out last year, data reporting for bullying was tied to that money, and now state leaders are saying there's no official data at all to see if the problem may subside over the years.
"If we're not measuring data on how effective that law is combating the problem with bullying, we're never going to know if we need to put more teeth into it," said Rep. Brandon Dillon.
In our research we found that it appears some districts do still collect bullying data and report it to the state, but it's optional, and there were an awful lot of schools who decided not to.
So, just over a year after the sweeping anti-bullying law was passed, lawmakers are saying that now, in 2013, short of a new legislative fix, they really don't have a clue whether the law is working or not to help children.
"I haven't heard any of my school districts that it's being ineffective, but I haven't heard yet that this is the magic answer," said Rep. Lisa Lyons, who represents the Alto area. "I think the bottom line, it starts in our homes where we teach kids right from wrong."