The city of Carson has proposed a ground-breaking city ordinance that would impose much stricter punishments on school bullies and cyberbullies. Unfortunately, the ordinance was defeated during their City Council meeting by a vote of 3 to 2.1
Following the defeat, the ordinance was given another shot in a subsequent City Council vote. Members of Carson’s City Council approved funding an anti-bullying campaign. This would allow the city to draft a new plan for limiting school bullying and cyberbullying.2
Carson’s ordinance defines bullying as, “a willful course of conduct which involves harassment.”3 This includes causing a person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, or threatened. Violators would receive steep fines and be charged with a misdemeanor under this ordinance. This is the first major legal stance taken against our school’s bullies and cyberbullies.
Unfortunately, the new ordinance may have more difficulty remaining under law. Although it clearly takes an innovative and beneficial stand against a major issue in Carson’s community, if it conflicts with any existing state laws, it may be considered constitutionally invalid.
Similar city ordinances have previously been ruled void by the various California Courts of Appeal on other complex issues. In 2014, an Orange County ordinance that banned all registered sex offenders from city parks was struck down because it conflicted with state laws. Because the state had already established laws pertaining to sex offenders, the ordinance in Orange County was ruled unenforceable.
Does Carson’s Ordinance Interfere with any State Laws?
Similar to the Court of Appeals’s decision in the Orange County sex offender matter, Carson’s bullying ordinance can be struck down if it interferes with any existing state laws. Although no federal law specifically applies to bullying, some criminal and juvenile laws in California do.
California Education Code Sections 32261, 32262, 32265, 32270, and 48900 cover issues such as bullying and cyberbullying. California Education Code Section 48900 prohibits any physical or verbal conduct that may cause fear or mental distress of another student.4 These laws penalize harassment in schools or on the Internet towards specific groups such as:
- Disabled people;
- A particular gender;
- Race or ethnicity;
- Religion; and
- Sexual orientation.5
Current state law also defines bullying as causing or threatening to cause physical injury to another student and willfully using violence or force upon another student. The law specifies certain electronic devices that cannot be used to commit this form of harassment:
- Text messages;
- Social networks;
- Voice messages;
- Images; or
- Other wireless communication devices.6
Call the Attorneys at Wallin and Klarich Today
If your child is facing allegations of bullying, the consequences may have an impact on their future. Being expelled or suspended can hurt your child’s chances of attending the college of his or her choice. Moreover, no child should have to face life-damaging criminal charges. While you may not think you need to hire an attorney for a school suspension or expulsion hearing, having a skilled lawyer present will show the school that you are serious about fighting the charges. More importantly, an experienced attorney will be able to aggressively defend your child if he or she is criminally charged, and will work diligently to help you reach the best possible outcome. The attorneys at Wallin and Klarich have been guiding our clients through school expulsion hearings and misdemeanor charges for over 30 years.
With offices located in Orange County, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Torrance, Riverside, West Covina, Victorville, Ventura, San Diego and Sherman Oaks, our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich are available to help you no matter where you live.
Call us at (888) 280-6839 to discuss your case. We will get through this together.