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August 11, 2010

The Honorable Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United State Senate
393 Russell SOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Senator Casey:

I am writing to you today on behalf of National Association of Secondary School Principals to express our support for the Safe Schools Improvement Act. As a member of the National Safe Schools Partnership – an informal coalition of nearly 70 leading national education, health, religious, civil rights, youth development and other organizations committed to ensuring that America's schools are safe for all children – we thank you for your introduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act in the U.S. Senate. This important companion legislation to H.R. 2262 will help address the problems caused by bullying and harassment in schools.

As you know, the problems of bullying and harassment create significant adverse academic and other consequences for students. These harmful behaviors directly interfere with student learning and achievement and threaten the safety and well being of millions of students each year.

NASSP strongly supports this bill on behalf of middle-level and high school principals who understand how integral student safety is to student achievement and to a thriving school culture. B.J. Paris, a member of our board of directors and a middle school principal from Austin, TX, testified before a House subcommittee on cyberbullying in June and explained that “If the principal doesn’t set the tone for the school, the students will.” She then went on to remark how critical it is that principals have the support of the federal government through legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement Act to ensure that all students feel safe, respected, and therefore able to learn. Further, in 2008 NASSP published with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) a report entitled “The Principals’ Perspective” that found both a desire for professional development and an overwhelming need of federal policies to address the issues of bullying and harassment that occur every day in our nation’s schools. A copy of the report is available here: http://www.glsen.org/binary-data/GLSEN_ATTACHMENTS/file/000/001/1167-2.pdf.

We support the Safe Schools Improvement Act to require that every district and their schools include a prohibition on bullying and harassment in their conduct policies; that they focus on effective prevention strategies; and that they include bullying and harassment in reports on school climate. By providing schools with the tools they need to prevent school bullying and harassment we can promote school improvement and safety, along with student achievement, throughout the country.

NASSP appreciates your leadership in addressing this important issue, and we look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that it becomes law. The introduction of this important legislation in the Senate will help to ensure that laws to address bullying and harassment, both through critical policies and effective prevention strategies, are included in efforts to reauthorize federal education law. If you have any questions, please contact me or Amanda Karhuse on my staff at 703.860.7241 or karhusea@principals.org.

Sincerely,
Gerald N. Tirozzi
Executive Director