Polk County’s representative in the Georgia Senate is looking to focus on the makeup of local school boards and their responsibilities when it comes to cyberbullying.

It was announced last week that Sen. Jason Anavitarte, R-Dallas, has been appointed to the Senate Study Committee on Nonpartisan Elections for Local School Board Members by Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan.

Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, will chair the committee which will be tasked with further examining the impact of partisan school board elections on district performance.

“Legislative proposals concerning education must be crafted in a delicate manner while encompassing input from leaders at all levels of government,” Duncan said in a release.

“With over 60% of Georgia’s school boards already operating as nonpartisan, and direct calls to remove partisan conflict from local education decisions, I look forward to seeing the outcome this committee produces through a transparent and collaborative process.”

Also on the committee are Sen. Lester Jackson, D-Savannah, and Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton.

The newly-developed committee was created in response to calls from education advocacy organizations calling for nonpartisan school board elections and statewide public input and will meet periodically between now and the 2022 Legislative Session to receive feedback from education stakeholders and members of the public on potential legislation concerning this matter.

Anavitarte will also promote Senate Bill 316 as part of the upcoming legislative session which would require local boards of education to notify students and their parents that certain acts of cyberbullying may be considered stalking.

The bill, authored by Anavitarte, was introduced in March and will be first read during the 2022 session. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, and Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula.

“Cyberbullying has emerged as one of the most prevalent and most dangerous forms of harassment taking place in our schools,” Anavitarte said in a release. “In situations where the bullying escalates to stalking, it is important that we have legal mechanisms in place to ensure our students are safe and protected.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the General Assembly to enact this bill which will provide additional security for all students and send a strong message that bullying of any kind will not be acceptable.”


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