We spoke with the Department of Education -- to help break down the specifics of Nevada's new anti-bullying law, which Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law on Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates one in three students have been bullied at school. This new bill creates an office which deals specifically with school bullying cases and ways to combat the problem. 

Before Senate Bill 504, the governor's office received letters from parents whose families have been torn apart by bullying. One read - "I'm a parent of a child who suffered months of severe verbal and physical abuse,” said Governor Sandoval. "On December 12th, 2013. A beautiful young girl took her life at the age of 13 because she was bullied to death."

It was many cases like this that led lawmakers to take action against the growing problem of bullying. "Sadly I can no longer keep track of the number of suicides that have occurred on my watch,” said State Superintendent Dave Erquiaga.

With this new law, Erquiaga says there's finally a better plan in place. He says the new legislation is one of the strongest bullying laws in the nation. "It does three things: it defines bullying for all of our schools so we all understand what that term means. It requires the department to set up an office of Safe and Respectful Learning and provide training to districts' personnel and charter school personnel and it establishes a really clear complaint process,” said Erquiaga.

The superintendent further explains if a parent or guardian is concerned their student is being bullied, the school is required to investigate that claim very quickly. If parent aren't satisfied with the investigation with the school, they can use the new department as a way to appeal cases. “If mom or dad goes through the process with their school district having filed a complaint about bullying and they're still not satisfied, they can appeal to this department,” said Erquiaga.

The goal of the bill is also to explain that bullying doesn't just take place in school, but through social media – where bullying can follow students at home. Teachers and school administrators will also receive training on how to identify signs of bullying.

Erquiaga says it's going to cost up to $300,000 a year to fund this new department. The money will come from the general fund, pending the approval of the School Appropriations Act which funds all education programs. A social worker grant program is also part of the new legislation which costs just under $24 million. "We spend about $2.8 billion over the biennium on public education so this is a very small but crucial component of the entire budget,” said Erquiaga. It will have up to five staff members, including two new positions created in the governor's budget to run programs and a complaint hotline.


The superintendent's office will be in charge of oversight. With this new law, there's more than just laying out the framework for bullying training. There's also accountability with the schools. "This bill also clarifies that administrators and school staff can be disciplined if they don't comply with a complaint and reporting investigation requirements. So we want to take this very seriously,” said Erquiaga.

The law goes into effect July 1st. That's when a 24-hour hotline will open along with a complaint process to report bullying. Funding for the additional staff members will start in early October.

The Washoe County School District is also working on creating an anti-bullying app for students to report bullying in school.