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      A “Sense of Urgency” in Anti-Bullying Task Force Recommendations

      Posted on August 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM


      At a meeting on Wednesday, August 15, Governor Dayton met with members of the Prevention of Bullying Task Force to discuss ways to prevent bullying and harassment in Minnesota schools.

      Before students can learn, they need to feel safe. That’s the message underscoring the mission of the Prevention of Bullying Task Force, which released its recommendations to Governor Mark Dayton this week imploring immediate and urgent action to combat bullying, harassment, and intimidation in Minnesota schools.

      The Task Force was established by Governor Dayton in February by Executive Order for the purpose of ensuring that all students have a safe learning environment, which is essential in determining not only the academic success of students, but also healthy social and emotional development.

      In the process of determining their recommendations, the members of the Task Force heard testimony from students, educators, parents, and community members, as well as from more than a dozen expert panelists.

      After consideration of these testimonies, along with a review of a wide range of documents and research, the Task Force has yielded its recommendations, which it believes will help create safe, learning-positive environments where students can thrive.

      The eight recommendations issued by the Task Force to Governor Dayton are:

      1. Replace existing, ineffective statutes with stronger law based upon the Task Force’s recommendations.

      2. Adopt the recommended operational definitions pertaining to bullying, harassment, and intimidation. 

      3. Establish baseline policies within every school district that emphasize the equal, strong protection of all students. 

      4. Create policies and practices that enhance communication between schools, families, and communities over strategies and techniques to reduce bullying. 

      5. Create a uniform data collection system to facilitate monitoring bullying issues. 

      6. Create interagency and interdepartmental collaborations within the State of Minnesota to assist schools in their anti-bullying efforts. 

      7. Create a “School Climate Center” within the Minnesota Department of Education to:
                  a. Provide information and assistance to schools in their anti-bullying efforts.
                  b. Improve safe-learning spaces for students, school-wide.
                  c. Increase discipline, with a focus on remediation in all cases of bullying, harassment, or intimidation. 

      8. Ensure that fiscal resources are available at the state and local levels to facilitate these efforts, as outlined by the Task Force. 

      Along with their recommendations, the Prevention of Bullying Task Force also issued a “Sense of Urgency” statement, stressing to Governor Dayton, the Legislature, and the public that our current anti-bullying laws and systems are inadequate in meeting the needs of our children. It suggests the immediate enactment of its recommendations to correct these deficiencies. 

      The 15 members of the Task Force include the Commissioners of the Department of Education and the Department of Human Rights, as well as members of the legislature. Experts in the fields of psychology, education, pediatrics, and anti-bullying advocacy were also among those appointed by Governor Dayton. 

      With their recommendations now submitted, the Task Force will begin working with Governor Dayton and the Legislature to create and pass legislation during the coming session that will help in securing safer schools and more academic, social, and emotional success for Minnesota’s children.