David Bartlett Molak, 16, took his own life Jan. 4, 2016 because he was being tortured on social media.
The Alamo Heights High School student from San Antonio was being bullied over his physical appearance, according to a San Antonio Express-News report.
Because it’s important for Texas laws to keep pace with evolving technology, Gov. Greg Abbott is to sign Senate Bill 179, also known as David’s Law, on June 9.
The anti-cyber bullying law went into effect Sept. 1 and during Monday’s Corpus Christi Independent School District meeting, the board approved some changes to adhere to the new law.
Trustees approved the district’s new local policy regarding bullying, which can be found on their incident reporting website.
Some highlights of the law include that districts are required to redefine the term “bullying” in their policies to allow a one-time incident to be described as such, instead of a pattern; the parents of the bullying victim and bully are to be notified of an incident within three days of it taking place; off-campus incidents may be investigated if they affect the school environment; disciplinary alternative education is an option for a student’s more serious behavior such as encouraging a bullying victim to commit suicide; cyberbullying can result in misdemeanor charges about the aggressor.
The law also requires school districts in Texas to include cyberbullying in their district policy.
Parents should be aware of some major changes to the practices and the district’s online reporting system, said Orlando Salazar, CCISD’s director for student support services.
Parents will be notified via a paper letter or contacted by a campus administrator within three days of an incident being reported to the district, Salazar said.
A safety statement that encourages the person submitting the report to call to 911 in case of an emergency was added to the page; a statement about the district’s stance on bullying and student safety was added to the page; the links to the district’s current policies were added to the page and a disclaimer reminding parents the online reporting system is not the only means for reporting an incident to the school was also added to the page, Salazar said.
“Parents need to understand there is a system in place that is anonymous,” Salazar said. “They are not alone and we are here to help when children report bullying.”
“We just need to be aware that a lot of our children are going through a lot … not just academically, but socially. If they come home and the report things that are happening please let us know.”