LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 14, 2021) — Today, Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) introduced a bill to strengthen protections of school employees and create tougher penalties for those who harm them.

Under Senate Bill 689, anyone who assaults, batters, wounds, or endangers school staff or school board members acting in their official duties would be charged with a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 and a year in jail.

“People who work in our school systems are dedicated to educating and supporting the next generation of scholars, inventors, and leaders, and should not be made to feel unsafe in their work environment,” said Sen. Polehanki, a former teacher and two-time teacher of the year award recipient. “I have always taken school safety and the safety of educators seriously, and this bill would ensure that those who seek to cause them harm will face the consequences of their actions.”

Since last year, the array of attacks on school boards, administrators, and educators has been growing, with many being targeted with threats and bullying. Some officials have even received threats that have extended to their families and children.

This extreme increase in backlash against schools is a result of districts implementing COVID-19 safety and prevention measures meant to protect students, teachers, and staff from possible infection and to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The Michigan Legislature needs to send a clear message that any violence perpetrated against school staff and board members will not be tolerated,” Sen. Polehanki added. “I refuse to accept this type of behavior as a new norm. The threats and harassment simply have to stop before someone gets hurt.”