Senate Bill 179 (David's Law)

The bill, referred to as “David’s Law,” amends the Education Code provisions regarding bullying to better define and encompass cyberbullying. It encourages school districts to establish a district-wide policy related to bullying prevention and mediation. It provides for anonymous reporting for students, includes cyberbullying off campus and after school hours, and modifies the parental/guardian notification procedure. It provides flexibility in the disciplinary placement or the expulsion of students engaged in certain types of very serious bullying. It authorizes school principals to report certain incidents of bullying to local law enforcement, and provides protection from liability for doing so. It expands the scope of instruction that can satisfy continuing education requirements for classroom teachers and principals to include instruction related to grief-informed and trauma-informed strategies. It requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to maintain a website with resources related to student mental health needs.

David’s Law changes Section 42.07 of the Penal Code, better known as the Harassment Statute, to more fully and clearly include the modern Internet-based communication tools and methods perpetrators use to cyberbully their victims. Under the changes made by David’s Law, if a person commits an offense under the cyberbullying provision of the Harassment Statute, it is a Class A misdemeanor (rather than merely a Class B misdemeanor). Classification is considered Class A if: the offense was committed against a child under 18 years of age with the intent that the child commit suicide or engage in conduct causing serious bodily injury to the child; or the person has previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under the new civil provisions in David’s Law.