A new bill signed a few weeks ago by Gov. Jerry Brown will impact school districts as they deal with cyberbullying and related issues, even if the alleged incident did not occur at school, or on the way to school.
Brown signed AB 256 by Assemblymember Cristina Garcia, D-Bell Gardens, on Oct. 11. This new law, which will take effect in January, adds the offense of cyberbullying — where students use computers, smartphones and social media to perpetuate harassing and threatening behavior while away from the school campus — to the state’s current anti-bullying statutes.
AB 256 also authorizes superintendents and school principals to discipline students who engage in cyberbullying, harassment by electronic means on or off campus.
“Once cyberbullying is discovered in a text, email or in any form, this law will give school officials the tools to pursue bullies and protect the well-being of our students,” Garcia said.
Until now, students in grades 4-12 who engage in bullying could typically be disciplined only if the bullying occurred while traveling to and from school, on campus during school hours, or as part of a school-sponsored activity.
“AB 256 closes a large loophole in anti-bullying law to match the reality we live in today by updating laws written before the explosive growth of electronic devices and instant communication,” Garcia said. “By supporting this bill, the governor and the Legislature have made a clear statement that student bullying is unacceptable and that it will not be tolerated in any way, shape or form.”