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LANSING, MI –
Negotiations spanning two years and involving parents, educators, law enforcement officials and many others came to a halt late Thursday when state Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-Dewitt) said he would not allow anti-bullying legislation to pass the Michigan Senate. The Republican Senate was ready to move on the bill when Cropsey blocked it.
“Sen. Cropsey has long been an opponent of anti-bullying legislation in Michigan,” said Bernadette Brown, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation. “Last night he single-handedly ended an effort to protect young people in Michigan from harassment and assault.”
House Bills 4162 and 4091 would have required all school districts in Michigan to establish policies regarding school bullying, based on a definition of bullying that is in the State Board of Education model policy on this issue. The legislation would also have required all districts to provide a copy of their policies to the Michigan Department of Education, which would then report to the legislature on the status and quality of these policies throughout the state.
The legislative package – titled Matt’s Safe Schools Law in honor of Matt Epling, an East Lansing eight-grader who took his own life in 2002 after a hazing incident – passed the Michigan House in 2007. The package was voted out of the Senate Education Committee Dec. 11. After extensive negotiations, Senate Education Committee Chair Senator Wayne Kuipers (R-Holland) joined a team of legislators who had championed the bill including Senators Glen Anderson (D-Westland), Samuel “Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) and Randy Richardville (R-Monroe) in working toward passage of the bill.
Howver, trouble began late Thursday evening and spanned into early Friday morning, after a Republican caucus on the issue. Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) and the caucus came out of the meeting and were unwilling to challenge Sen. Cropsey.
“It is a sad day for all of us,” said bill sponsor Rep. Pam Byrnes (D-Chelsea), “but especially for the young people of our state and their parents, who were counting on this forward-looking policy to make Michigan schools safe for learning.” Michigan is one of only 11 states that do not have a law requiring some type of anti-bullying policy in schools. Triangle Foundation will continue to fight for all young people in Michigan by pursuing anti-bullying policies in all schools.