EDGERTON, Wis. (WMTV) - Bullies can now be fined up to $500 in the City of Edgerton after the City Council passed a new ordinance on Monday.
The ordinance, passed 5-0, allows the city to fine residents between $10 to $500 for bullying, abuse, harassment or other hostile behaviors. It went into effect on Dec. 2.
Edgerton School District Superintendent Dennis Pauli says the measure is specifically to act as a “deterrent” to bullying within the city’s schools.
“Student safety is our top priority within the schools, and certainly within the community. Anything we can do to ensure the physical and emotional safety of our kids – I think any initiative toward that end is a positive move for our students,” Pauli told NBC15 on Friday.
Edgerton Police Chief Robert Kowalski is credited for introducing the ordinance to City Council, and getting it passed.
“[Kowalski] is fairly new, and I think it’s something he believes is in the best interest of helping to prevent students that may choose that type of behavior, as a deterrent – knowing there could be a ticket from $10 to $500,” according to Pauli.
Dr. Mark Coombs, the principal of Edgerton High School for the past 11 years, says much of the bullying occurs on social media.
"I think there is still bullying that happens in schools on a level that some people may have remembered in years past. But I do think bullying is taking on now another means through the social media lens," Coombs says.
"That’s where the ordinance here in Edgerton I believe will give the police department some more teeth. To be able to hopefully curb some of that bullying," according to Coombs.
Edgerton resident Cindi Deane's granddaughter went to school in the city. Deane says her granddaughter attended Edgerton schools, and experienced bullying in the past.
"Something should be done - there is a big problem. Being a parent is part of it, and so is the school... you got to start somewhere," he says.
The ordinance is not just limited to students. Any city resident can be fined.
“That bullying behavior can take place among adults too. So that ordinance is bullying in general behavior will not be tolerated – regardless what your age is,” Pauli says.
Edgerton is not the first city in our area to pass such ordinance.
The Edgerton ordinance defines behavior that can lead to fines as follows:
- Bullying: An intentional course of conduct which is reasonable likely to intimidate, emotionally abuse, slander or threaten another person and which services no legitimate purpose
- Course of Conduct: A pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts for a person of time however short, evidencing a continuity of purpose.
- Harassment: Any conduct, whether verbal, physical, written, or by means of any mode of communication, which is prohibited by Wis. Stats. 947.01, 947.012, 947.0125, or is any intentional course of conduct which is likely to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment, and which serves no legitimate purpose.