Middle school project leads to prefiled bill in Kentucky legislature

One JCPS student's class assignment is pre-filed as bill

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Summer break is almost over at Noe Middle School, but Dylan Kissling is thumbing through a cell phone looking at the rubric of a project that is long overdue.

"I had to choose one of these options," Kissling said.

He will be attending duPont Manual High School in just weeks, but new deadlines for the 8th grade project seem to keep popping up.

"I kind of assumed that once the project was complete, then we were going to move on to the next thing," Jason Nelson, who teaches social studies at the school, said.

Rep Josie Raymond, (D) Jefferson County and incoming duPont Manual High freshman Dylan Kissling discuss anti-bullying legislation, before it was filed.
Rep Josie Raymond, (D) Jefferson County and incoming duPont Manual High freshman Dylan Kissling discuss anti-bullying legislation, before it was filed. (Source: Rep Josie Raymond)

That wasn't the case. Nelson said the project was designed to make students research a civics topic, but also put their work into action.

Kissling looked into anti-bullying legislation and sent an email pitching new policies to a Kentucky state lawmaker.

He said he thought he might not even get a response, but still clicked send.

"I got an email from a constituent and this constituent happened to be in the 8th grade," Rep Josie Raymond, (D) Jefferson County, said.

In her inbox, the newly elected legislator found a detailed plan drafted by the 8th grader, including policy comparisons to other states.

So, the two met up. First at the library, then over ice cream. It all happened at a time Raymond said the community was in search of answers in Jefferson County.

"Some of the ideas that Dylan brought to me were actually ideas that the parents of students that had committed suicide had been saying," Raymond said.

Thus, the bill drafted over dessert was born.

The two recently pre-filed the legislation that expands a schools response to include off campus cyber-bullying, require parent notification of victims and alleged bullies, and lay out policies designed to make students feel safe after bullying.

"No matter what age you are, you can get involved," Kissling said. "An email, that's all it takes. If you're passionate about something, if there's something you want changed, just try to change it."

A message from the incoming Manual High freshman, echoed by the lawmaker, who just so happens to be freshman herself.

State lawmakers could take up the bill when they meet for the 2020 legislative session in January.

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