House committee holds bill that would make school threat hoaxes a crime

Education

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News)—The House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee held a bill that would criminalize fake threats to schools.

The bill, HB 171, specifically deals with minors. 

On Wednesday the committee agreed fake threats should be considered a crime either punishable by a misdemeanor or in extreme cases a felony, but ultimately decided to hold the bill. 

The committee disagreed with a portion of the bill that would require all schools to provide restorative justice to minors who make such threats. The committee voted the take that portion out of the bill. 

Restorative justice would require schools to take steps to rehabilitate students. 

“Restorative justice is not mandated. In the current code, it is listed as one of the options that schools may use, and avail themselves of and have students participate in, but it is not currently mandated,” Republican Representative Kim Coleman said. “This would mandate restorative justice, and that is a very prescriptive and specific paradigm–a specific tool– that may not be adopted in every LEA or school.”

Some lawmakers said taking the requirement out is a step backwards. 

“I am opposed to the amendment. We have talked about restorative justice when looking at prison reform in the adult system and we’ve done it in the juvenile system and so if we’re doing this in all of these other areas….why are we going to revert back when we are heading in this direction?” Democratic Representative Angela Romero said.

Canyon School District supports the bill and pitched the idea to Representative Stoddard, the bill sponsor. The district says hoax threats could cost upwards of $13,000. 

Now it’s up to Representative Stoddard to reintroduce the bill in its amended form.  No word if and when that will happen. 

You can track this bill here.

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Glen Mills

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For this Beetdigger and Ute it’s an honor to be doing what he loves in his home state! Glen is an award-winning journalist, who joined the ABC4 News team in June 2013. You can catch him anchoring ABC4 News at 5 and 6, Monday through Friday. He also serves as our Senior Political Correspondent, keeping you up to date on issues that impact your life at the city, state and national level. His political reports run throughout the week, and he hosts Inside Utah Politics, Sunday mornings at 8. The Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists has recognized Glen as the best government and military television reporter in the state. Before returning home to Utah, he spent 11 1/2 years developing his journalism skills in other states. He held various on-air and management positions at KPVI in Pocatello, Idaho, WGBA in Green Bay, Wisconsin and KKCO in Grand Junction, Colorado during that time. Read More...