Including students in anti-harassment bill gets attention of education establishment

By Guy Page

A House committee has added anti-harassment protections for students to a Senate bill that covers only housing and employment harassment. This last-minute addition has gotten the attention of the state’s educational establishment.

Addie Lentzner, student anti-harassment advocate

But the Vermont Student Anti-Racism Network (VSARN), a student advocacy group, says the same anti-harassment protections afforded to teachers should apply to students.

“Imagine this: a teacher and a student both experience harassment from their principal,” VSARN spokesperson Addie Lentzner, 18, of Bennington, said. “Under the current harassment standards, only the teacher would be able to file a claim on this. The student would not be able to. We believe this is an injustice.

“An argument voiced by legislators and others is that education officials and schools do not have the capacity to deal with the harassment complaints being heard,” Lentzner said. “We understand the many demands that are put on educators and staff members by their schools, but allowing students to pursue harassment claims is vital to our mental and physical health. If schools are for students, then they are worth our safety.”

Last week, the House Housing and General Committee voted 10-1 to add to S.103 a lengthy, detailed section outlining anti-harassment protections specifically against students. The Senate bill reduced the burden of proof necessary to demonstrate harassment in rental housing and on the job – including, of course, teachers. 

But the bill did nothing to protect students from harassment – until the House General amendment. S103 with the amendment is listed on the House Calendar under New Business – Favorable, With Amendment. 

S.103 also appears on the House Education Committee schedule for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. On Tuesday, the committee will get an update from two members of House General, Rep. Saudia LaMont (D-Morristown) and Rep. Elizabeth Burrows (D-Windsor, also a former school board chair). 

The likely topic of discussion: what’s this new student harassment language all about? And why is this your committee’s business, and not ours?

Wednesday and Thursday, the state’s education establishment will descend upon House Education. Scheduled to testify are:

  • Heather Lynn, Attorney, Vermont School Boards Insurance Trust
  • Timothy Newbold, Head of School, Village School of North Bennington
  • Jeff Fannon, Executive Director, Vermont National Education Association
  • Emily Simmons, General Counsel, Agency of Education.

Vermont Human Rights Commission chair Bor Yang also is scheduled to testify. A proposed Education Committee amendment of the Housing amendment is not unlikely, provided House leadership allows it before the bill receives Second Reading (preliminary approval) and Third Reading (final approval). 

Last week’s amendment was at least the second time Housing and General intruded on another committee’s turf while addressing an issue under its purview. Several members sought to amend S.100’s Act 250 housing exemption statewide from 10 to 25 units, only to be told by chair Tom Stevens and House leadership that Act 250 oversight belongs to Chair Amy Sheldon’s Environment and Energy Committee. That committee is scheduled to vote this morning on S.100 – at this point, keeping the cap at 10. 

Ms. Lentzner’s press release on behalf of VSARN can be read in today’s Vermont Daily Chronicle

Categories: Education, Legislation

10 replies »

  1. Seems like someone will be devoured by the monster they helped make

  2. Are the students independent adults or are they minors living with parents, a parent, or a guardian with sole responsibility for their care and protection? Or are the students wards of the nanny state?

    • The state has taken parents rights away from their kids.

  3. Can’t comment on articles anymore they seem to keep being denied. Oh that’s right cause heaven help us if we say something bad about the liberals running Vt

  4. As already posted in the original article:
    Child, you know not of what you speak. This is just another way to place a divide between “US AND THEM”. As a Vermonter who faced Real discrimination you have no clue because these laws are nothing but a repeat of already existing laws both state and federal. Pleas reread it carefully. Notice the section that speaks of discrimination.
    See the caveat ? If you don’t let me enlighten you. The bill allows discrimination. but not based on the “protected” status. You see being an “at will state” jobs are come and go based on the whims of the employer. If it is the state , try going to court and actually seeing a jury and getting a favorable verdict for discrimination. NO, Vermont either settles cheaply or just makes it go away, as in my case.

    No, the real problem in schools are not the teachers but fellow students. I was forced into counseling and other BS because the school would not believe the kids behind me were saying stuff that, well, I will only use your imagination to articulate.
    Needless to say I did not wait until recess to defend myself. Was I ever believed. No. Not even when a racist teacher beat me up. Then it was still my fault and nothing happened to him and I was moved with resentment from the town to another school.
    Changing a law will not help, only educating TEACHERS and ADMINISTRATION will fix the issue of discrimination in schools.
    As far as trans stuff, just get them the counseling they so desperately need and not STATE sanctioned counseling and don’t hide it from their parents. 25+ years after grade school I have my best friend’s daughter who is a half breed tell me of the same garbage happening to her and guess what, the people in charge did nothing but label her a troublemaker, so, nothing has changed.
    Lastly, does anybody realize that kind of thinking actually come from the PARENTS?!?

  5. Yeah because Vermont has such a high racism problem 🤣🤣🤣 how about mental health ad for these kids instead of pandering to their illness

    • The racism problem is that no one can find the systemic racism.

      • To both Scott and Todd:
        Your comments are repugnant .
        It is people like you who do not believe people like me that racism exist that make people like me all but hate people like you. The cause of racism/discrimination is ignorance and you two are prime examples of that ignorance. To act as if no such behavior exist is a prime example of someone who is either responsible for the same behavior or has turned a blind eye to it. \
        Why can you not find any?
        You apparently don’t believe and don’t care.
        Sorry you live in such a blind bubble. People like you need to open your eyes. Otherwise it will continue to happen, you know the stuff you think is not real, in Vermont. One of these days you may turn someone who was, (discriminated against) into some kind of killer. Been known to happen, just look at the last school shooting by that woman who said she was a man. Racism, in Vermont exists, your ignorance of it does not change that fact.

  6. There used to be a time when a child was bullied at school, family members would counsel the child how to defend themselves. As my grandfather taught me, “tell them it takes a bigger foundation to hold up a church then it does an outhouse.” As society and culture became more self-absorbed and self-important,(thanks to the internet and re-emergence of the Weather Underground,) a large segment of society cannot peacefully, logically, respectfully, or civilly deal with personal conflict of any sort.

    2 Timothy 3:1-5 KJV
    1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
    2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
    3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
    4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
    5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.