Colorado Association of School Boards reaffirms their commitment to creating safe schools

In November of 2010, One Colorado, the Colorado Education Association, the Colorado Association of School Executives, the American Federation of Teachers–Colorado, and the Colorado Association of School Boards released a letter calling on Governor-elect Hickenlooper and the 2011–12 General Assembly to take immediate action to stop bullying and harassment in Colorado schools.

“In recent months, young people all across the country have taken their own lives after suffering from anti-LGBT bullying. Although these tragedies did not happen here in Colorado, harassment, taunting, and violence are pervasive in our schools—despite the policies we have in place,” said Brad Clark, Executive Director of One Colorado. “We must head off the crisis in Colorado by addressing this problem immediately. As adults, it is our moral responsibility to make schools safe for all our children.”

In the months since this call-to-action, One Colorado has been working with its partner organizations and Reps. Sue Schafer, D-Arvada, and Kevin Priola, R-Henderson as well as Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, to draft a bill aimed at improving bullying prevention programs used in public schools. And just last week, the House Education Committee heard emotional, compelling testimony in support of House Bill 1254, Bullying in Schools.

Following this hearing, the Colorado Association of School Boards has reaffirmed their commitment to make schools safer for all students–including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young people–saying:

“To be sure, bullying prevention is an important issue, one that has been highlighted in the media in recent months due to the occurrence of several suicides that were the devastating result of students being bullied by other students and even adults…

“It has been 10 years since local boards of education were required to adopt anti-bullying policies. Much has been learned in 10 years, and CASB recognizes the need to evaluate whether policies and resulting programs have been effective in our public schools. As such, CASB has joined One Colorado, along with the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and the American Federation of Teachers – Colorado (AFT)…and pledged to work with these partners to provide education and resources to our public schools to help our schools improve school culture, thereby lessening the occurrence of bullying and harassment. In the end, schools that foster a positive environment where kids feel safe will result in kids coming to school, staying in school, and continuing to learn…

“Knowing the budget crisis facing our public schools, the sponsors of the bill have worked diligently with CASB, CASE, CEA, and One Colorado, to write a bill that removes all mandates from public schools. The bill updates the definition of bullying to include cyber/electronic bullying and creates a grant program within the Colorado Department of Education. If funded, the program will provide grants to local school districts or individual schools that wish to apply for and comply with the parameters set forth by the bill, for example, to conduct a school climate survey every other year…

“We will continue to work with the bill sponsors and other stakeholders as the bill continues through the legislative process to ensure that the school board voice is heard…Through our partners listed above, we will continue working to raise awareness and to assist school districts as districts refine their approach to bullying prevention and foster positive school climates.”

We are thankful that every major education association in Colorado is committed to working with us to ensure that all students are safe and respected in schools, and we appreciate the leadership not only of CASB but of CEA, CASE, and AFT-Colorado. Onward!