Tougher penalties could be imposed for anyone who causes physical harm to a school employee or board member, under legislation introduced by former teacher and MEA member Sen. Dayna Polehanki in the state Senate last week.
Senate Bill 689 would amend the Michigan Penal Code to set a maximum misdemeanor penalty of one years’ imprisonment and a $1,000 fine to anyone who “assaults, batters, wounds, or endangers a school employee, school contractor, members of a board of public school or nonpublic school, or member of an intermediate school district board who the individual knows or has reason to know is performing his or her duties.”
In remarks on the Senate floor, Polehanki (D-Livonia) told colleagues the proposal was necessary in light of a spike in threats and intimidation of educators. “It’s time to get tough with anyone who hurts a school employee or school board member,” Polehanki said.
Polehanki cited incidents she was alerted to, including a school board member being stalked at her home and another having to be escorted from a meeting by security due to crowd hostility.
“The Michigan Legislature needs to send a clear message that any violence perpetrated against school staff and board members will not be tolerated and will carry significant penalties,” she said. “We need to do this … before someone gets hurt or even killed.”
Last month, Polehanki discussed the issue in an MEA Voice story published online and appearing in the upcoming issue of the magazine, which will arrive in homes this week.