HEA 1423, the “anti-bullying” bill, was signed into law on May 11, 2013. This is another statute under the educational section of the Indiana Code, such as IC 20-33-8-15, that enables the schools to suspend or expel children for activities that did not occur on school grounds or during school activities. IC 20-33-8-13.5(b) includes activities that occur anywhere as long as the participants are students in a school corporation and disciplinary action is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or prevent an unreasonable threat to the rights of others to a safe and peaceful learning environment.
The latest attempt at defining “bullying” will likely lead to continued First Amendment free speech challenges. IC 20-33-8-0.2 defines bullying as:
(a) overt, unwanted, repeated acts or gestures, including verbal or written communications or images transmitted in any manner (including digitally or electronically), physical acts committed, aggression, or any other behaviors, that are committed by a student or group of students against another student with the intent to harass, ridicule, humiliate, intimidate, or harm the targeted student and create for the targeted student an objectively hostile school environment that: (1) places the targeted student in reasonable fear of harm to the targeted student’s person or property; (2) has a substantially detrimental effect on the targeted student’s physical or mental health; (3) has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s academic performance; or (4) has the effect of substantially interfering with the targeted student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, and privileges provided by the school.
(b) The term may not be interpreted to impose any burden or sanction on, or include in the definition of the term the following: (1) participating in a religious event, (2) acting in an emergency involving the protection of a person or property from an imminent threat of serious bodily injury or substantial danger, (3) participating in an activity consisting of the exercise of a student’s rights protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, Section 31 of the Constitution of the State of Indiana, or both; (4) participating in an activity conducted by a nonprofit or governmental entity that provides recreation, education, training, or other care under the supervision of one or more adults, (5) participating in an activity undertaken at the prior written direction of the student’s parent, (6) engaging in interstate or international travel from a location outside Indiana to another location outside Indiana.
A variation of the “bullying” definition has also been applied to Ball State University, Indiana University, Indiana State University, Purdue University, and the University of Southern Indiana. IC 21-39-2-2.1.