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Published June 11, 2012, 01:12 PM

Anti-bullying policy deadline nears for ND schools

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Only about one-third of North Dakota schools have submitted required anti-bullying policies to the state, with the deadline fast approaching.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Only about one-third of North Dakota schools have submitted required anti-bullying policies to the state, with the deadline fast approaching.

The Legislature last year mandated that public and private schools have policies in place by July 1 of this year. The state Department of Public Instruction as of last week had received only 74 of 235 policies, The Forum newspaper reported.

"We believe, between the School Boards Association and the department, we have provided resources and training, so there really is no reason why it shouldn't be done," said Valerie Fischer, director of safe and healthy schools for the education department.

Rep. RaeAnn Kelsch, R-Mandan, who sponsored the bill in the Legislature, said she thinks districts likely got busy at the end of the school year and put off turning in their policies. She thinks schools will be on board by July 1.

"I think that the schools are seeing this is something that they need to have in place," she said.

North Dakota School Boards Association Executive Director Jon Martinson said he also thinks schools will meet the deadline.

"I think that school districts want to do the right thing," he said. "They will do the right thing."

The mandate requires schools to explain the policy to students, offer anti-bullying programs to students from kindergarten through 12th grade, and provide training to teachers and administrators about bullying prevention. There is no punishment for schools that do not comply but the education department plans to publicize any that do not, Fischer said.

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