Bullying task force in Rochester Thursday

Gov. Mark Dayton's Task Force on the Prevention of School Bullying will hold listening sessions in Rochester on Thursday, as part of an effort to come up with suggestions to strengthen the state's anti-bullying law.

The current law is short, only 37 words long, and doesn't offer schools much guidance in how to write their own polices.

Task force co-chair Julie Hertzog said she hopes the listening sessions offer a sense of scope about bullying in schools and what can be done to prevent it.

"For so long, it hasn't been addressed as strongly as it should have," she said.

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The task force will hold two sessions, one for students, and one for parents, teachers and community members, at Kellogg Middle School in Rochester. Another session is planned for May 1 in St. Cloud.

Another focus of the task force will be to study bullying laws in other states and to find effective policies in individual Minnesota school districts that could be emulated.

"Everybody knows there's a problem. The issue is what's working, where, and to what level of effectiveness is it working," Walter Roberts, Jr., co-chairs the task force, told MPR in March. The professor of counseling at Minnesota State University at Mankato added that, "That's one of the things we have to be able to answer before we make any recommendations."

The task force has until Aug. 1 to pass on its findings to the governor.