“Insane” Virginia Bill Will Endanger Kids

by Kerry Dougherty

Just when you thought the new left-wing majority in Richmond couldn’t get any crazier, they do this: Abolish the requirement that school principals report to law enforcement any student who commits sexual battery.

Boneheaded. Dangerous, too.

There’s more.

If HB257 becomes law school administrators will no longer be required to call the cops when a student engages in stalking, assault and battery, threatens school personnel or threatens the school itself.

This soft-on-young-criminals approach has its roots in an Obama policy aimed at ending the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline” that supposedly begins when kids engaging in minor criminal acts at school are turned over to the police and embark on a life of crime.

Of course, many of us don’t consider sexual battery minor. Nor do we shrug off threats made against a school. (Assault and battery could include fighting. No need to involve law enforcement for every minor skirmish. If it escalates, however, if a kid is seriously hurt, authorities should be summoned.)

Apparently, the squishy liberals running the show in Richmond learned absolutely nothing from the slaughter at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida just two years ago.

According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, school officials in Broward County – who were also trying to end the school-to-prison-pipeline – had created a “culture of leniency.” It was that environment that many, including the experts that studied the mass shooting, believed may have contributed toward the tragedy.

“Broward Schools have grown so tolerant of misbehavior that students like Nikolas Cruz (the killer) are able to slide by for years without strict punishment for conduct that could be criminal,” the Sentinel reported at the time of the massacre. “The culture of leniency allows children to engage in an endless loop of violations and second chances, creating a system where kids who commit the same offense for the 10th time may be treated like it’s the first, according to records and interviews with people familiar with the process. “

Great. Virginia looks like it’s about to step out on the same slippery slope.

On his Facebook page Friday, House Minority Leader Del. Todd Gilbert, denounced what he called this “insane” change to the law that will “endanger our children.”

“House Democrats today adopted a policy that will make our students, teachers, and school personnel significantly less safe. Administrators should have some leeway over when to involve law enforcement in disciplinary problems — but instances of sexual battery, stalking, and threats and against teachers and staff are not ‘discipline problems.’ They are serious crimes with real problems that need to be investigated and prosecuted.”

On Saturday I interviewed Del. Jason Miyares of Virginia Beach who voted against the final version of this bill. He pointed out that the Democrats pushing this roll-back of Virginia law seemed concerned only about the students who misbehave in school.

“But what about the rest of the kids?” Miyares asked, “when they can’t learn because the person next to them is a holy terror? Don’t they have rights, too?“

Not any more. Not if Gov. Ralph Northam signs this bill.

Miyares said this was just the latest in a series of unfortunate changes awaiting the governor’s signature. It joins a bill that will give Virginia driver licenses to illegal immigrants and HB1462, a measure that passed the House and is before the Senate. This slice of madness will make it easier for a person charged with a violent offense – even one that carries the possibly of life in prison or the death penalty – to be freed on bail.

Lucky us, huh?

This column was published originally at www.kerrydougherty.com.

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21 responses to ““Insane” Virginia Bill Will Endanger Kids

  1. This bill just drops the mandatory reporting requirement. Schools can still choose to report these crimes, which I hope they will continue to do.
    I thought libertarians/conservatives would be against government coercion.

    • I second this response. I thought conservative mindsets thought that the local level knew best how to handle local issues. That is until conservatives disagree, then it’s rigid control I know best-ism, fall in line.

      And this is the same hyperbolic pearl clutching that Kerry put forth at the Pilot for years (God rest its soul). If you followed her train of thought for all that time, we should have been extinct as a species many times over. But here we are.

    • Remember that HB 257 is about hiding numbers so that progressive reformers can show measurable progress. There is a difference between hiding and the truth. Also remember that many violent/criminal behaviors at school go unreported to avoid damaging the school image or the administrators job.

    • New Zealand? Give me a break!

  2. I see Kerry has brought her fans with her….lame ones….She and Jim have a point. The mandate protected administrators from political pressure, which will effectively prevent “voluntary” reporting. The schools don’t want to report these things, not at all. Neither to the parents of offenders. Once it is voluntary, many will choose not to, and the statistics will have even less credibility. Regular readers of the Rebellion (and fans of the occasional contributor Cranky) already know that “educational statistics” often is the same level oxymoron as “military intelligence.”

    I do kinda like “hyperbolic pearl clutching….”

    • The mandate also allowed school administrators to avoid using common sense. It is not a matter of just reporting. Reporting brings in the cops, which is another level that might not be needed.

  3. I was never that big a Dougherty fan — not bad writer but over the top conservative. On this case, how is sexual battery defined? It could be something very simple or it could be like a situation in Montgomery County where kids in a school sports team, “initiated” new players by shoving broomsticks up their anuses. Obviously, the latter should be reported immediately to law enforcement but what about something borderline? That will stay with the person for years.

    “Mandatory” rules can be awful in other circumstances. When my younger daughter was 5 and we were living in the Midwest she and her sister were jumping on a box in our basement. She fell and broke her wrist. At the time, I was in the family room upstairs watching a ball game on TV. I too her to the nearest ER and according to their “mandatory” rules, i was separated from my daughter and placed in a separate, locked rules where I was interrogated apparently on suspicion of child abuse. I was really angry. They wouldn’t even tell me how my daughter was.

    All because she doesn’t like something in a bill why does she slime all Democrats?

  4. Not a fan of Ms Dougherty. She really has little to say worth reading.

    • Uh, got that. I was being facetious..pay attention. 🙂

      Peter, your concern for those falsely accused of sexual battery (which can be merely touching, but it does require contact) will be stored away and probably prove useful in some other context. I know the problem is they don’t want these kids entangled in the juvenile justice system. But doing nothing is a really bad option, as well. Solving these behavior issues is way easier at 6 then at 16 or 26, I would think.

  5. UGH OH … “The sky is falling” if we don’t call the police when 2 kids get into a fight at school!

    I would like to repeat the story I wrote on an earlier blog post about school discipline …
    During the first weeks of my son’s first grade at a new school there was a fire drill. One kid didn’t want to go out and he got boxed in the ears by the teacher. My son had never seen an adult hit a child and he was, thereafter, very leery of his teacher who he had thought was OK.

    At my normal teacher/parent meeting I brought this up. She explained about the fire drill and said that some kids in the school only responded to some level of hands on discipline. Whatever happened after that my son was fine for the rest of the school year, evidently knowing that he wasn’t going to get hit. So … it is an unanswered question, but I think it is the better, or maybe essential question, can kids who know violence at home learn there are other ways?

    First … “Corporal punishment in schools has now disappeared from most Western countries, including all European countries. In the United States, corporal punishment is … banned in 31 states, permitted in 19, of which only 16 actually actively administer corporal punishment.” (WIKI) Calling the police doesn’t have to be the alternative to corporal punishment by teachers.

    There are alternatives that have better results. Studies find that “positive approaches to school discipline at all ages can actually improve students’ academic performance, and those students are less likely to become involved in the juvenile justice system or have need for behavioral services.”

    Several promising programs, studied by a significant group of non-profits including the Pew Research Center, called “Fight Crime, Invest in Kids”, show these programs actually reduce disciplinary problems, help the students, improve the learning environment and prevent children from entering the criminal justice system.” The approaches include ‘positive behavioral support’, especially in elementary school, ‘social emotional skills curricula’, and ‘Restorative justice’ … a concept studied by UC Berkeley that found an 87% decline in suspension and an end to all expulsions. It actually brings together offenders and their victims to find solutions and change behavior.

    The sky isn’t falling … maybe it is time to try those alternatives.

  6. We have already had a discussion on this bill in this blog. Here is my response then:
    Here are the facts. Under current law, school officials are required to report to law enforcement any incident that is a criminal offense, no matter how minor. Under HB 257, as amended by the Senate, school offenders would still be required to report to law enforcement any incident that would constitute a felony. They “may” report any other incident. Despite Todd Gilbert’s rant, school officials would have “leeway” in areas they now don’t have and serious incidents would be reported to law enforcement.

    To illustrate the effect of this change, I need to go back many years to when my daughter was in high school in Henrico County. Somehow, I heard about a fight at her school and was sort of shocked and said something to her about it. She dismissed it, telling me that there were often fights, usually between girls over a boy. If the current law had been in effect, these “fights” would have had to have been reported to the police, resulting in a criminal record for the students.

    • It is interesting that Kerry says “No need to involve law enforcement for every minor skirmish. ” But that is exactly what the current law does require–report to law enforcement any incident of assault. So, she seemingly is not against allowing school personnel some flexibility, that is not allowed now. There is nothing in the proposed legislation that would prevent school personnel from bringing in the cops in the case of sexual battery, if they thought it was serious enough to warrant that intervention.

      • Yes, the law (pre-amendment) required police be notified, but it is very explicit that there is no requirement that a charge be leveled. Unless the police witness the event, only a complaining witness can spark a charge. No charge, no “record” (confidential for juveniles, as you know.) And I think the non-felony issues need to continue to be tracked, at least internally. But if made voluntary, that reporting will be worthless. The schools don’t want statistics like that available to the public. I’d be less concerned if I thought the schools would act to arrest this behavior, or the parents would, but I have little confidence that is the case. There is a middle point between just expelling them and getting them before a judge, or ignoring it.

        • And there are lots of points before expulsion or the judge.
          Alternative methods start in elementary school, setting simple rules for behavior and doing positive things to enhance that good behavior. It also means some level of discipline but that can occur in a lot different ways beside calling the police.
          Do you really think that expelling or calling the police is a way to change behavior for kids who respond with negative behavior?

          • johnrandolphofroanoke

            Paddling was highly effective. I remember. It happened once. Message received. Behavior changed. Good old Mr. Wood gave me what I needed and I thanked him for it many years later.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            John –

            Thanks for your sanity at last. It rendered the virtue signalling mob speechless.


          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            John –

            Have you ever considered bringing the parents of these chronically misbehaving young bullies who terrorize their young classmates, into the classroom and paddling them as well, in front of the entire class? Might not that application of wood also get to the root of these chronic problems that ruin the chance of an education for good kids of good parents?

          • johnrandolphofroanoke

            When I taught 71 expelled felons at the Fredericksburg Regional Alternative High School I never called parents. I called probation officers and judges. After a couple kids disappeared the rest of the gang lined up and graduated. Mission accomplished. I made six bucks and thirty cents an hour that year. Most impactful year of my 27 year career.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            John –

            When I was in my 40s, I climbed rock and ice on long multi-day road trips with a young man around 23 then who, when in his teens, had a severe anger management problems in school, to the point that the judge gave him one last chance, before incarceration, a very strong, intensive, and long outdoor course in the wilderness, followed up by close supervision in the Martial Arts with discipline daily enforced by that activity, that was still ongoing. He was one of the most powerful and finest young men I have ever known, who became one of the best climbers in the country, and was by then also extraordinarily literate, challenging me there too on our road trips every step of the way.

            There are many ways to solve these issues far short of hiding them, namely fixing them instead. I will talk more about this tomorrow, how we need to get to these kids far earlier, and if necessary, later confront them, not hide them and their issues, while giving them real and serious and meaningful options short of prison.

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