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When she was a teacher, Rep. Marie Poulson said Monday, there was a time when she had to chase a student down a hall after he stole her purse.
The student's pockets were stuffed with her cash and credit cards, Poulson said, but after the chase ended, she still had to deal with the child's family.
"I turned him in and then received abusive phone calls from his parents the rest of the year," Poulson, D-Salt Lake City, said.
Poulson was speaking in favor of a bill that would require school districts to create policies to address teacher abuse from students and family members.
HB62, sponsored by Orem Republican Rep. Keven Stratton, adds "abusive conduct" to a list of student conduct that requires parental notification, like bullying and hazing. The bill also directs districts to enact a grievance process for teachers who experience abuse.
"Our teachers were inappropriately vulnerable without this legislation," Stratton said.
The bill defines abusive conduct as verbal or physical actions directed at a school employee that "a reasonable person would determine is intended to cause intimidation, humiliation or unwarranted distress."
A single action would not constitute abuse, according to the bill, and school districts would be allowed to offer voluntary training on abusive conduct to parents and students.
"This is something that is going to be very helpful," Stratton said.
Stratton sponsored similar legislation last year, which received the unanimous approval of the House Education Committee in the final week of the 2016 session but did not receive a vote on the House floor.
The bill addresses a need in education, Poulson said, noting that her experience with a stolen purse was not an isolated incident.
"Any educator," Poulson said, "has tons of stories about this sort of thing."