Safe and Healthy Schools

JJ Safe Schools Act

 

Under the Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act, school districts must create and adopt a policy that clearly states that harassment and bullying are prohibited. Fla. Stat. § 1006.147 (2008) ("the Johnston Act"). The policy must set forth procedures for its publication; it must include provisions for making behavior standards clear to students, teachers, and school administrators, and it must establish a mechanism to report and investigate incidents of harassment and bullying.

Although the statute itself specifically lists a few examples of categories of students that the anti-bullying policy should protect, this list was not meant to be exhaustive. In fact, the Florida Department of Education has provided all school districts with a sample policy that includes a full list of enumerated categories that include disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity and expression, physical appearance, or sexual orientation, or other distinguishing characteristics, along with prohibitions on sexual, racial or, religious harassment.

On the floor of both the House and Senate, the legislature has made it clear that school districts have an obligation to protect students from bullying and harassment "based on a student’s actual or perceived disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender, gender identity, physical appearance, or sexual orientation, or other distinguishing characteristics, in the same way it prohibits sexual, racial or, religious harassment". Senate Floor Vote on SB 790/HB 669 April 30, 2008. The legislature has also stated that school districts that fail to do so will lose their safe schools funding. Id.

You can find the Florida Department of Educations sample policy here.