The Ottumwa Courier


February 7, 2014

Mr. Pedersen goes to Des Moines


His situation worsened when he received a death threat from a group of students. He never learned the identities of the students.

“All I know is that I’m walking through the same halls as them at school,” he said.

Both bills would give administrators and teachers discretion on how they respond to bullying complaints.

Although both would also require that districts provide training on handling bullying situations, they vary on how to carry out and pay for the training. The House proposal would use $25,000 for online training, while the Senate bill seeks $300,000 for training.

Pedersen said he supports the bill, but the funding part is not exactly what he’d want to see: Allocating money to school climate rather than webinars is what can make a difference. The culture in a school is one of the biggest factors in resolving hostility. That’s what he’s seen in Eldon at the Cardinal Community School District.

Rep. Quentin Stanerson, R-Center Point, said no legislation wouldn’t end bullying, but it would be a step in the right direction.

The House panel approved its bill. The Senate subcommittee didn’t take action but will discuss its bill again.

“I think that schools are working hard on this topic,” Pedersen told the Courier Friday. “It’s not an easy fix — and it’s not just for schools. The next step is to engage communities. I don’t think bullying should be another thing we ask schools to fix alone. We all have to step up.”

Gov. Terry Branstad has said anti-bullying is a priority during his Condition of the State address.

— With reporting by the Associated Press. Courier reporter Mark Newman is on Twitter @couriermark



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