Michigan Senate passes proposed bullying legislation

Vote follows discussion on anti-bullying bill

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) - By a vote of 26 to 11, with one excused, the Michigan Senate today passed proposed legislation that would implement a bullying law for school districts across the state.

The matter now goes to the Michigan House of Representatives. When exactly that will happen remains unclear.

Known as Senate Bill 137, sponsored by state Senator Rick Jones, the proposed legislation would seek to amend the Revised School Code.

State Senators took up the proposed legislation this afternoon for debate on the Senate Floor before the vote was taken.

The proposed bill would require the board of a school district to adopt and implement a policy prohibiting bullying or harassment, require the board to hold at least one public hearing before adopting its policy, require a board to submit a copy of its policy to the Michgian Department of Education and require the Michigan Department of Education to report to the state legislative standing committees on education regarding the status of the policies.

If the proposed bill becomes law, the amended section of the revised school code would be known as "Matt's Safe School Law" in memory of East Lansing teen Matt Epling who committed suicide after his family asserts he was the victim of bullying.

Action News talked to Matt's dad, Kevin, who says "It's really one of the most absurd things I've seen In six years of trying to get this done."

He believes the legislation doesn't prohibit religious or moral expression. He and others who are opposed to it believe that could be used as a loophole for students to bully.

State Senator Rick Jones disagrees and says "We think it's a great way to ensure every school safeguard every child."

Kevin Epling says he will go on to visit more schools and talk to students. He believes he, along with others like him, have been making a difference by doing that.

"My goal is same as it was ... getting word out," says Kevin Epling.

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