House passes Noret bill making it a crime to threaten school officials with bodily harm


STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Rep. Thomas E. Noret (D-Dist. 25, Coventry, West Warwick) that would make it a felony to threaten school officials.

The bill (2024-H 7303) would amend an existing law that makes it a crime to threaten to take the life of, or to inflict bodily harm upon, a public official or a member of his or her immediate family because of the performance or nonperformance of some public duty.

“There is a highly-charged, sometimes toxic culture in schools today, where a lot of hostility is directed toward school officials,” said Representative Noret, who served for 20 years as a Coventry police officer. “Teachers and administrators are used to all kinds of verbal abuse from students — and even parents. But we have to draw the line at threatening the health and safety of educators, and we have to do it now while this behavior is becoming commonplace.”

School superintendents, principals and all other school employees would join other public officials that are already protected by the law, including elected and appointed officials, judges, prosecutors and police officers.

“We all agree that a safe and secure school setting is fundamental to the academic and emotional development of our students; but while focusing on that all-important issue, we shouldn’t forget the well-being of the educators and staff,” said Representative Noret. “After all, we put the safety of our children in their hands every day. We give them a tremendous responsibility. It is our duty to secure and ensure their safety.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2024-S 2683) has been introduced by Sen. David P. Tikoian (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Lincoln, North Providence).