N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14-17 (2011) and State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 6A:16-1.3 defines harassment, intimidation and bullying and requires each school district to adopt adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying on school property, at a school-sponsored function or on a school bus. The policy must define and prohibit harassment, intimidation and bullying, outline expectations for student behavior and consequences and remedial action for students committing acts, describe procedures for reporting and investigation of acts, and plans for response. Response plans may include a combination fo counseling, support services, intervention services, and other programs. It must be reviewed and reevaluated annually. The statute prohibits reprisal, retaliation or false accusation against a victim, witness or one with reliable information about an act of harassment, intimidation or bullying. In addition, a school administrator who receives a report of harassment, intimidation, or bullying from a district employee, and fails to initiate or conduct an investigation, or should have known of an incident and fails to take sufficient action tominimize or eliminate it, may be subject ot disciplinary action.
N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14-17 (2011) requires acts of harassment, intimidation or bullying must be reported verbally to the school principal on the same day when the school employee or contracted service provider witnessed or received reliable information regarding an incident. Acts must be reported in writing within two school days. The investigation must be initiatied by the principal or their designee within one school day of the report, must be conducted by an anti-bullying specialist, must be completed within 10 days. The results of the investigation must be reported to the superintendent of schools within two days of completion of the investigation, and reported to the board of education at the next board meeting. Parents or guardiants of the students who are parties to the investigation are entitled to receive information about the investigation within 5 days after the report to the board. A parent may request a hearing before the board after receipt of the information. The board then has the option of affirming, rejecting or modifying the superintendent's decision.
Schools must post a link to the policy must be prominently posted on the home page of the school district's website and distributed annually to parents and guardians. The home page must also list the name and email address of the district anti-bullying coordinator.
N.J.A.C. 52::17B-71.8 requires each school to appoint a school anti-bullying specialist. The responsibilities of the anti-bullying specialist are outlined in the statute.
N.J.A.C. 18A:17:46 requires school employees observing or having direct knowledge from a participant or victim of an act of violence to file a report of the incident with the school principal. The principal must notify the superintendent of the action taken regarding the incident. The superintendent of schools must report twice each school year to the board of education all acts of violence, vandalism, harassment, intimidation and bullying that occurred. The report must break data down by each school in the district, in addition to district-wide data. The report will be used to grade the school district in comparison with other schools in the district. The grades of each school must be posted on the district's website hompage.
N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-17(c) and State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9(d)1i require information regarding the bullying policies to be incorporated into a school's employee training program, and N.J.S.A. 18A:37-17(b) and State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9(d)2 require districts to develop a process for discussing the districts bullying and harassment policies with students. N.J.A.C. 18A:712-33 requires newly elected or appointed school board members to complete a training program on harassment, intimidation, and bullying in schools, including a school district's responsibilities. Board members are required to complete the program only once. N.J.A.C. 18A:26-8.2 reing.quires school leaders (chief school administrator, principal, or supervisor endorsement) to complete training on issues of school ethics, school law and governance. The training must also include information ont he prevention of harassment, intimidation and bully.
S2392 (2011) requires requires the Department of Education to develop a guidance document to assist in resolving complaints concerning student harassment, intimidation or bullying. The requirements of the guidance document are outlined in the statute. It also requires the Department to develop an online tutorial on harassment, intimidation and bullying. It requires the department to establish a "Bullying Prevention Fund" that will be used to provide grants to districts for harassment, intimidation and bullying prevention training. It designates the first week of October as a "Week of Respect."
State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.9(d)3 (2005) requires the annual review of the extent and characteristics of harassment, intimidation and bullying and implement the program or other responses, as appropriate.
In L.W. v. Toms River Regional Schools Board of Education (2007) the Supreme Court of New Jersey determined that a school district may be held liable under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD) (N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 to -49) when students harass another student because of their perceived sexual orientation. The opinion states "When assessing a school district's liability, the factfinder must determine whether the district, with actual or constructive knowledge of the maltreatment, took actions reasonably calculated to end the harassment."
Cyberbullying State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 18A: 37-15.1 (2007) requires "electronic communication" to be included in a school district's policy on prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bully ing. Statute 18A:37-14 defines "electronic communication" as a communication transmitted by means of an electronic device, including, but not limited to, a telephone, cellular phone, computer, or pager.
Hazing: As described in the required Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials (MOA), pursuant to State Board of Education Administrative Code N.J.A.C. 6A:16-6.2(b)13, hazing may be considered to be bullying. Common bullying offenses include assault, harassment, threats, robbery, and sexual offenses. The MOA establishes that the school district must report to law enforcement officials any hazing incident that involves a criminal offense, and reminds school officials that hazing which involves the participation of a coach or a teacher may constitute child abuse in some circumstances.
Source: National Association of State Boards of Education
Last Updated: 5/16/2011