Anti-bullying bill helps Georgia students switch to private school

Eligible students include low-income, special needs, bullied children

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

GEORGIA - Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill that would set aside money to help some students make the move from public to private school. It's designed to help students who are low-income, special needs, or whose families are active military.

READ: House Bill 301

The proposed bill goes a step further and would also include students who have documented cases of being bullied. No matter where it happens, most parents and students would say bullying is something that needs to be addressed. Many are concerned about it happening in Southeast Georgia public schools.

Lela Jambard lives in Camden County. While her son is still in diapers, bullying is something she thinks about. "Me and my husband, we talk about it all the time and how we're nervous for him to go to school," Jambard said. "And we're not ready to deal with that yet."

Jambard said private school is something she's willing to look into once her son is old enough.

The bill introduced in the Georgia legislature would establish an education savings account, making it easier for some students to make the switch from public school to private. Among those are students with a documented case of bullying.

Jambard said the stories she's heard over the years have gotten worse. "Actually, I just read an article the other day about a kid who was 7, and was talking about suicide," Jambard said. "It's really scary... that young to even think about death that way."

If established, the number of students in the program would start very small. It would equate to less than 1 percent of all students in the Georgia public school system. More students would be added in later years.

Jambard is on board with the idea, if it means helping a bullied student. "Absolutely. I think that should be an option for anyone," Jambard said.

If this bill is approved, parents would have to agree to certain rules if they want their child to participate, including things like providing transportation.

The Glynn County system went a step further in trying to address bullying. Earlier this month, it launched the "STOP!T" app. It allows for students to anonymously report bullying, cyberbullying, incidents of other violence, and self-harm. The app can be downloaded through Google Play or iTunes.

To learn more about the "STOP!T" app, click here to see the instructional video provided by the Glynn County school system.

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