Ward to introduce Alex Moore anti-bullying bill

Published 2:05 pm Monday, March 7, 2011

State Sen. Cam Ward will introduce a bill this legislative session to toughen the state’s anti-bullying law.

The Alex Moore Anti-Bullying Act is named after a Jemison 15-year-old who committed suicide last spring by leaping from an Interstate 65 overpass. Moore’s family and friends say she was constantly bullied at school.

Ward drafted the legislation after meeting with Moore’s parents, Jim and Jill Moore, earlier this year.

Major components of the bill would:

•Require the Department of Education to develop a statewide policy related to student harassment and post it on its website.

•Require teachers and other school employees who witness suspected harassment to report it to the school principal.

•Grant civil immunity to anyone who reported suspected harassment or bullying.

•Transfer students guilty to repeated harassment to other schools.

Ward said it’s important to let schools handle things on a local level but that one statewide policy would make things clearer for everyone.

“We don’t want to micromanage individual classrooms,” Ward said. “I just want there to be one policy across the state giving some guidelines (to help parents and students deal with bullying.)”

Jill Moore believes the law, if passed, would make a difference in schools.

“I’m thrilled that they are introducing it this session. I’m honored and surprised that they are naming it after Alex,” Jill Moore said. “I’ve read the bill, and I like what he has in there. I hope it passes and that it really makes a difference in how the schools, statewide, handle bullying.”

Moore said an important part of the bill to her is the requirement of school employees to report suspect harassment.

“If someone had reported it in Alex’s case, it could have made a big difference, and she might still be here with us.”

The full text of Senate Bill 25 can be found online at the Alabama Legislative Information System Online website, alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/acas.