South Dakota might stiffen penalties for assaulting teachers

Image courtesy of MGN.
Image courtesy of MGN.(MGN)
Published: Feb. 16, 2023 at 11:24 AM CST
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PIERRE, S.D. (SDBA) -- South Dakota teachers, school staff, and referees would get the same enhanced criminal penalty protection as law officers, firefighters, EMTs, prison staff, and public officials under a bill the Senate passed Wednesday.

SB 129 increases the penalty for assault from a misdemeanor to a Class 6 felony. A Class 6 felony is punishable by up to two years in prison or up to a $4,000 fine.

The bill also increases aggravated assault to a Class 2 felony. A Class 2 felony is punishable by up to 25 years in prison or up to a $50,000 fine.

A bill supporter, Republican Sen. Bryan Breitling from Miller, said the enhanced penalties are a last resort for a troublesome student.

“We (school boards) look at every specific situation,” Breitling said. “It is not intended as the first response but the last response. It is another tool in the toolbox.”

Measure opponent, Democratic Sen. Reynold Nesiba from Sioux Falls, said the bill had good intentions but was “the easy way out” in dealing with challenging students.

“Are we doing all that we can do to get students the help that they need?” Nesiba asked.

He added that the bill would only increase criminality and not help students.

SB 129 passed on a 22 to 12 vote. It now goes to a House committee for further consideration.