HB 306

85(R) - 2017
House Public Education
House Public Education
Criminal Justice
Public Education

Companion Bill

SB 179

Vote Recommendation

  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Neutral
  • Negative
  • Neutral


Ina Minjarez

Bill Caption

Relating to harassment, bullying, and cyberbullying of a public school student or minor and certain mental health programs for public school students.

Fiscal Notes

No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.

Bill Analysis

This bill would expand the definition of bullying to include a single significant act, or a pattern of acts, by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves written, verbal, physical conduct, and that occurs at the site of a school-sponsored or school-related activity, on or of school property. The bullying would have to interfere with a student’s educational opportunities or substantially disrupt the orderly operation of a school, classroom, or school-sponsored or school-related activity. It would also be considered bullying if the conduct infringes on the rights of the victim. In addition, this definition would include cyberbullying which is bullying done through the use of electronic communication.

This bill would authorize a student to be placed in a disciplinary alternative education program or expelled if the student engages in bullying that encourages a minor to commit suicide, or if they incite violence against a minor, or if they threaten to release intimate visual material of a minor. 

This bill would allow a victim of cyberbullying who is younger than 18 years of age at the time it occurs to seek injunctive relief against the individual who was cyberbullying the recipient. Additionally,
 bullying would be punishable as a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. If a person engages in bullying, and if they have previously violated a temporary restraining order or injunction issued under this bill, or if the actor’s conduct results in serious bodily injury or death, the crime of bullying would be punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.

Vote Recommendation Notes

This expansive new definition of bullying and the accompanying criminal penalties constitute overcriminalization which violates our limited government principle. Bullying is a discipline issue, not a criminal issue unless it involves a person committing physical harm against another person. Criminalizing mean things people do and say will likely only mint more criminals rather than solve the problem of bullying. This is an issue that should be resolved by parents, and to the extent that it happens in schools, by teachers and administrators. We should strengthen the rights of parents to reasonably discipline their children and we should allow school districts to institute strict discipline policies to curb bullying without involving unnecessary contact with the juvenile justice system. For these reasons we oppose HB 306.

Organizations Supporting

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas
Texas Classroom Teachers Association
Texas Impact

Organizations Opposed

Mental Health America of Texas
Texas Appleseed
Texas Suicide Prevention Council