Washington State House Democrats


Legislature Passes Senn Bill to Promote Safe and Inclusive Schools

OLYMPIA— “I am thrilled to share news of the final passage of House Bill 1207, inspired by the voices of Bellevue School District high school students, who called for better policies and procedures to prevent and respond to harassment, intimidation, bullying, and discrimination in schools,” shared prime sponsor Representative Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island).  

This legislation directs the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop model language for student handbooks that includes information about nondiscrimination policies and complaint procedures. Starting in the 2024-25 school year, school districts will be required to include this language in their handbooks and publish it on their websites. Additionally, the bill codifies the requirement for school districts to designate one person as the primary contact for compliance with nondiscrimination laws and replaces the problematic term “emergency expulsion” with “emergency removal.” 

As John Harrison, the Executive Director for District and Community Affairs in the Bellevue School District, aptly noted, “All students, even when they make mistakes, exercise poor judgement, or conduct unacceptable acts, need our love and support and the opportunity to hold themselves accountable through restorative practices, without the unnecessary label ‘expulsion’ on their permanent record.” 

“This bill is a crucial step towards creating safe, inclusive, and welcoming schools where every student feels valued and respected, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability status,” shared Senn.  

“We know that discrimination, harassment, and bullying can have devastating consequences for students’ mental and physical health, academic performance, and future opportunities. That is why we must do everything in our power to prevent and address these issues in our schools.” 

In Washington state, all children should have access to a high-quality education in a safe and supportive environment. House Bill 1207 is an important step towards fulfilling this obligation and is headed to the Governor’s office to be signed into law.