ALBANY - The State Senate has given final passage to a bill requiring public schools to combat bullying through increased awareness among students and teachers.

The bill, adopted 58-3 late Tuesday, requires school districts to include bullying in anti-discrimination policies and student codes of conduct, if they haven't already done so. It defines what bullying is and the groups commonly affected.

The measure calls for teacher and staff training. Bullying also would be included in tolerance initiatives.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Thomas Duane and Assemb. Daniel O'Donnell, both Manhattan Democrats, only impacts public schools. It doesn't address cyberbullying via computers, cell phones and other electronics.

"We know we have to go further to address cyberbullying, bullying off school grounds and bullying at private and parochial schools," said Sen. Craig Johnson (D-Port Washington), referring to Long Island cases.

Sen. Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset), who taught in the New York City public schools for 20 years, agreed, adding, "I saw the effect of bullying ... This is nothing more than torture."

The Republican minority tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to include cyberbullying and to create the crime of aggravated harassment of teachers and other school staff.

For the eighth time since 2002, the Assembly passed the bill last month, 138 to 4.

The state School Boards Association initially opposed the measure, citing worries about the cost. The state Education Department estimates the price tag at $270,000, down from its earlier $50-million forecast.

"Many districts already address bullying in their codes of conduct," said association spokesman David Albert. "This isn't a large administrative burden or a financial cost."

The bill now goes to Gov. David A. Paterson. If he signs it into law, the requirements go into effect in 2012.

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