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Anti-Bullying Law Starts for Schools Next Month

Administrators charged with implementing tough new Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, from new definitions to new jobs

Every school year brings changes and challenges, but few are as formidable as the one now facing administrators: implementing the state's new anti-bullying law.

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights requires districts to have a host of new procedures and protocols in place when schools open their doors, strengthening the rules put in place in 2002 and 2007.

These include requirements that spell out the specific number of days allowed for a case to be reported, investigated and resolved. The law also expands the definitions of bullying, including the tricky issue of online or electronic harassment taking place outside of school.

More than 1,000 school administrators have gone to day-long training sessions across the state over the past month, organized by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators and the New Jersey School Boards Association.

One was held on Aug. 9 in North Brunswick, with another in Pomona Aug. 11. The state is also conducting its own training sessions with representatives from every district in September. Ultimately, every teacher and staff member will undergo some training.

For the time being, districts in September will need to submit to the state their revised policies meeting the new requirements.

Not surprisingly, the session at North Brunswick High School, which brought together 200 superintendents, principals and other administrators, was led by a panel of lawyers.

Three areas stood out as likely posing the biggest challenges to schools.

No More Waiting Game

There is no grace period for bullying claims anymore. The new law sets up a strict timetable:

  • School staff must report to the principal any alleged cases that they either witness or receive reliable information about within one day,
  • Witnesses must write reports within two days,
  • Principal alerts parents, and initiates investigation within one day,
  • Investigation completed within 10 days, and reported to superintendent two days after that,
  • Superintendent must recommend for intervention or other action to school board at next meeting; findings shared with parents. Parents may request hearing.

Those deadlines contain some wiggle room, to address extenuating circumstances. But the law sets a very clear protocol that one attorney compared to the now-standard workplace harassment rules that put the onus clearly on management.

"You may have had this in policy before, but this is now state law," said Michael Kaelber, director of legal services for the school boards association.

Continue reading this story in NJ Spotlight.

NJ Spotlight is an issue-driven news website that provides critical insight to New Jersey’s communities and businesses. It is non-partisan, independent, policy-centered and community-minded.

Lisa August 23, 2011 at 11:12 AM
It's a shame that these steps have become necessary. Once again we are asking the schools to do the parents' job. And then we wonder why there isn't enough learning going on. How about stepping up and teaching your kids to be decent human beings, parents?
Frank M. August 23, 2011 at 11:25 AM
Oh Lisa you are so very right! What happened to today's parents? Or maybe America in general, we have become so selfish and have that "it's all about me mentality" We, as parents are obligated to teach our kids respect and right from wrong.
Cj August 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM
Maybe if the government stayed out of our business we could disipline like we should and you wouldnt need these laws. We got through school. Kids tauted us and there were fights but we survived. I hate to see in another 30 years what kind of kids will be raised do to all these laws. I can only imagine a bunch of whimps
07006 dude August 23, 2011 at 01:55 PM
Cj, I don't agree with your comments. Not only did some kids who were bullied not get through school, they didn't get through life very long. I agree that the responsibility lies mostly with parents to raise good people; however, we are not in schools with our children...the teachers are.
Lisa August 24, 2011 at 01:19 AM
You'd be right, if parents supported teachers and administrators instead of defending their kids' despicable behavior. I don't know about you, but if I got in trouble at school I was in BIG trouble at home. My parents certainly didn't go in and fight the teachers in my defense...and they didn't care what I had to say. Teachers were in charge, period. Not so today; now teachers are the enemy and parents teach their kids that lesson.
Lisa August 24, 2011 at 01:20 AM
07006 dude: and that is exactly why we should be supporting the teachers and not defending our kids. Parents defend unbelievably bad behavior today and that is what has changed, not teachers.

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