House passes substitute bill on student, teacher behavior

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House Committee on Basic Education and Culture passed a substitute bill seeking to institutionalize regulations in public schools on appropriate student behavior towards other students, teachers, and school staff during classes and within and outside school premises.

The panel, chaired by Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI, approved the still unnumbered bill to House Bill 58 or the proposed “Teacher Protection Act”, authored by ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio.

ACT-Teachers Partylist Representative Antonio Tinio (FILE PHOTO / ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN) ACT-Teachers Partylist Representative Antonio Tinio (FILE PHOTO / ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

“With large class sizes, multiple shifts each day, and the heaviest tasks they have to assume under K to 12, any of them can attest that instilling discipline in their classrooms has become increasingly difficult,” Tinio said.

He laments the lack of institutional support on standards and effective methods of instilling discipline, the lack of guidance counselors to act as support personnel and the absence of legal assistance and representation. “While child protection is indispensable, teacher protection is also a must,” Tinio pointed out.

The bill tasks the Department of Education (DepEd) to issue the Guidelines on the Implementation of Teacher Program 120 days from its effectivity. "The guidelines shall, among other things, detail the rights and responsibilities of teachers with respect to student discipline and classroom management, to the end of fostering a positive school climate and safe environment conducive to instruction and learning," it said.

"Because school administrators and teachers exercise special parental authority over their students while under their supervision, instruction and custody, the guidelines to be produced by DepEd shall recognize their authority in the schools and school-sanctioned events," the measure adds.

The substitute bill grants teachers the authority to ensure that their students behave, respond and treat their teachers and classmates in a respectful manner and the right to call out disorderly behavior and deal with them consistent with the law and the guidelines.

"The guidelines shall also detail permissible, appropriate, and effective responses and interventions that will address violation of school rules and regulations to be administered by teachers, the school head, and other school staff," it said.

The bill provides that any act committed by a teacher or school staff pursuant to the disciplinary rules issued by the DepEd shall not be deemed as child abuse, cruelty, or exploitation as defined in Republic Act No. 7610 or the “Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act."

Aside from parents, teachers, students and other school personnel, other sectors such as the community, represented by their respective organizations, as well as professionals in child behavior and social work shall be involved in the formulation of the guidelines.

The DepEd shall provide explanation and training to familiarize students and families with the guidelines; explain the expectations of sectors involved and describe the preventive and positive responses and interventions that may be used.

Other authors of the bill are Reps. France Castro, Ramon Durano VI, Lawrence Lemuel Fortun, Angelina Tan, Marisol Panotes, Len Alonte-Naguiat, Dale Malapitan, John Marvin Nieto, Ron Salo, Gabriel Bordado Jr., Juliet Cortuna,  Glona Labadlabad, Ciriaco Calalang, Virgilio Lacson, Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Fernando Gonzalez, Gary Alejano, Romero Quimbo and Roy Loyola.(