Sen. Daughtry introduces bills to help teachers create more equitable, safe learning environments

Posted: April 05, 2021 | Education and Cultural Affairs, Senator Daughtry

AUGUSTA — Sen. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, introduced two bills to help Maine educators create more equitable and safe environments for students and each other. LD 633, “Resolve, Directing the Department of Education To Implement Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Training for Educators,” and LD 880, “An Act To Protect School Employees from Workplace Bullying,” were the subjects of public hearings before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee. 

Sen. Mattie Daughtry

“I think we can all agree that our schools can and should be places free from bullying and intimidation of any kind. Unfortunately, studies have shown that our schools may inadvertently contribute to bias among our Black, brown, indigenous and all students of color, resulting in real life consequences for our students and their families. In some cases, families do not feel welcome or supported by their public schools,” said Sen. Daughtry. “Many people in our schools are doing their very best to help students during this time, an unprecedented time in our history, and they deserve to feel protected and supported. These bills look to support schools and teachers in the good work many are already doing.”

LD 633 would require the Department of Education, State Board of Education to amend its rules to require a certified employee in a school, including but not limited to a superintendent, principal, teacher or educational technician, to successfully complete a diversity, equity and inclusion training program as a condition of recertification. These rules are major substantive rules and must be presented to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs no later than January 2, 2022.

LD 880 would amend the law governing bullying in public schools to include a prohibition on the bullying of school employees.

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“This proposal affirms the Legislature’s finding that all students have the right to attend public schools that are safe, secure, and peaceful, but takes the common-sense step to add school employees to this finding,” said Andrew Mason, testifying on behalf of the Maine Education Association in favor of LD 880. “As this pandemic has revealed, school employees already deal with and face a number of challenges in performing their job. They should be allowed to work in an environment free from bullying, just as every student has the same right.”

“These two bills are connected to each other and to what we hope is a shared goal of supporting students — whoever they are — in developing the skills and capacities to succeed in ever more diverse communities and workplaces,” said Mary Bonauto, an attorney at the Maine office of GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders.

Both bills face further action in committee.