On Jan. 1, 2017, Missouri Lawmakers put into place a law that can convict a student of bullying if the investigation shows the student has in fact been bullying, which could result in a chance of arrest or the possibility to receive a Class E felony. According to the Missouri General Assembly, a Class E felony consists of a term that does not exceed four years or allows the court to create a special case which does not exceed one year.
For students and school administrators, this means that students fighting at school or other school related areas or students who are convicted of harassment that interferes with the educational environment can now be found guilty of third degree assault or a Class E felony.
“Without a doubt, when it comes to bullying, it is unacceptable at any time during school,” Hermann High School Guidance Counselor Patti Pazdera says. “Every student has a right to walk into school and feel comfortable and nobody should be able to take that away.”
Under this new law, teachers and staff are putting together guidelines to what is justified as bullying or just a minor misdemeanor.
Due to the new law, students and teachers will undergo training to prepare for the changes. Principal Mr. Leimkuehler has put together a presentation for students and staff to see how the law affects them and their school life.
“Teachers have been trained to deal with bullying and will continue to be. Students are going to be educated on it in the upcoming week,” Pazdera informs.
“I think the biggest thing is that it is not changing procedure, other than the reporting. We will try to help out with that,” Leimkuehler says. “It will help give the kids an opportunity to always be heard.”