I write in response to three recent opinion columns published in the paper by Rep. Phil Curtis, R-Madison, Tim Russell, and Carroll Conley, the executive director of the Christian Civic League, misrepresenting the anti-bullying bill rejected by House Republicans this session.

I am a member of the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, which heard extensive testimony on “An Act To Prohibit Bullying in Schools” (L.D. 1237). The committee carefully considered the testimony of all parties and amended the bill to address many of the concerns raised by opponents. Despite the claims now being put forth, the text of the bill is simple and straightforward.

It requires school districts to have an anti-bullying policy and a response plan to bullying of any student. 

It strikes a balance between free speech rights and safety in the schools, and it provides desperately needed parameters for schools dealing with an epidemic of bullying and violence.

Bullying in schools is a serious problem.  It affects a student’s ability to learn and can create a hostile and frightening environment for the victims of bullying. I know that school districts welcome guidance and assistance in dealing with this issue.

I know this can be done without infringing on students’ civil liberties and can be done with minimal costs to school districts.  It is my hope that when lawmakers return to Augusta in January, the Legislature will put aside political and ideological agendas and do what is in the interest of Maine children by passing this law to ensure a safe learning environment for all Maine students.