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Iowa schools to report, track bullying on database

September 16, 2012

DES MOINES - Iowa public schools have a new tool to report and track bullying incidents in detail as they happen throughout the year.

The state has relied on one annual set of reports, logged under four labels, each spring to track bullying in schools. That was prompted in 2007 by a state anti-bullying and anti-harassment law.

The new database will have schools report bullying based on one or more of 17 student traits explicitly named in state law - including sexual orientation, gender identity, physical or mental disability, political belief and various combinations of those factors.

The database also will allow districts to track students who are repeatedly bullied or accused of bullying.

Standards of reporting by schools have varied wildly, the newspaper reported. Educators and officials generally have agreed that the number of incidents statewide - 10,427 reported during the 2011-2012 school year - represents a fraction of the incidents of bullying happening in schools.

Penny Bisignano, an Education Department consultant, led a seminar Friday with more than 70 educators from around the state to train them on reporting in the new system.

"We would assume that the incidents would go up" with more rigorous reporting, she said.



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