Iowa's Safe Schools Law
Effective September 1, 2007, Iowa Code Chapter 280 requires both public and private schools to establish policies prohibiting harassment and bullying against students by employees, school volunteers, or other students. Students may now seek remedies under both Chapter 216 and Chapter 280.
In addition to the 17 traits or characteristics in the new bullying bill, the Iowa legislature this year amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act (Iowa Code chapter 216) to add sexual orientation and gender identity.
17 protected traits or characteristics in the Law In the law there are seventeen areas specifically addressed as protected for students. They are:
- national origin
- marital status
- sexual orientation
- gender identity
- physical attributes
- physical or mental ability or disability
- political party preference
- political belief
- socioeconomic status
- familial status
Harassment against employees based on race, color, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, age or disability is also protected.
What does this law prohibit?
“Harassment” or “bullying” can be written, verbal, electronic, or physical conduct based on an actual or perceived trait or characteristic of the student which creates an objectively hostile school environment. “Hostile environment” means one or more of the following:
- Conduct which places the student in reasonable fear of harm to the student’s person or property.
- Conduct which has a substantially detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health,
- Conduct which substantially interferes with a student’s academic performance.
- Conduct which substantially interferes with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.