INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 3, 2015) — A proposed Indiana bill has gained national attention and more than 170,000 signatures on an online petition against it.
Senate Bill 500, labeled as education deregulation, is supposed to do away with unnecessary laws and red tape for schools.
The 300-page bill includes laws that passed within the last several year, however. One of them is an anti-bullying bill passed in 2013. The bill requires schools to train staff and report bullying instances, including cyber bullying.
“It was very surprising. We were all shocked to see this bill and shocked to see what was contained in it,” Mindi Goodpaster with the Marion County Commission on Youth said.
That’s why Angie Stagge, who helped pass the law with her teenage daughter, and another mother who lost her daughter to suicide started the petition on Change.org.
“This is for our kids. It’s for our kids’ future, so it’s huge,” Stagge said.
Fox 59 went to the bill’s author, State Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, who admitted the large bill is almost too much to take in. Miller said he planned to file an amendment Wednesday to keep the anti-bullying law in place along with other changes people have showed up to protest.
“I just feel bad that we did cause anxiety for some that thought that the first draft is the final draft,” Miller said.
Still, Stagge and Goodpaster said they will remain worried until that amendment is presented and passed.
“If we repeal a law two years after it’s been passed, it’s sort of concerning that we don’t even give it a chance to go forward,” Goodpaster said.
For Miller, the bigger issue was schools taking on more responsibility with less resources.
“If we’re going to turn these schools into mini-social service agencies, that’s fine maybe we do want to do that, but if so we need to organize and fund them accordingly,” Miller said.
He just may not have anticipated two moms and an online army that turned the little-known bill into a nationally-known one.
“(I) was not expecting for people in Pennsylvania and New York who had signed the … petition to contact me,” Miller said.
“We just want everybody to know that we’re not going to give up,” Stagge said.
The senate committee will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday to hear amendments and vote on whether or not to send the bill to the full Senate.