On January 6, 2011 Govern Chris Christie signed one of the toughest laws relating to zero tolerance for bullying in schools. Public schools are now required by law to set up and enforce procedures to detect, monitor, investigate, and report acts of bullying and to discipline those who commit them. In a great step forward to hold schools accountable, this statute holds school administrators personally responsible for the protection of our children. The act strengthens enforcement efforts and calls for revisions to the existing statute (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-2). The statute, officially titled “Prohibiting Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying on School Property, at School-Sponsored Functions, and on School Buses,” now adds harassment and intimidation as to the list of illegal behaviors and gives the statute teeth by allowing the school to discipline any student who commits acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
To expand the already existing statute, Governor Christie signed off on two new elements of school bullying:
First, the definition of harassment now includes intimidation and bullying at events that occur off school grounds and behavior that substantially disrupts the orderly operation of the school or the rights of students, causes physical or emotional harm, or creates a hostile educational environment.
Second, the school district now must implement certain procedures and report itself to be in compliance. Those new procedures include
- Appointing an anti-bullying coordinator in each school district and adopting a rigorous reporting protocol for cases of harassment.
- Training administrators, school board members, principals, teachers, staff, and contracted service providers, such as cafeteria servers, on anti-bullying measures.
The significance of this statute, in our view, is not only the accountability placed upon on administrators who do nothing to protect our children, but also the requirement to deal with harassment that occurs at places outside of the school yard.
The State Department of Education will review each school district and give it a grade based upon its compliance and efforts. These grades will be posted on the districts’ school websites.
If your child has been the victim of school bullying, or if you would like to learn more about how New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Act applies to your school, do not hesitate to contact the Mark Law Firm and speak to one of our qualified attorneys at by calling 908-626-1001, 973-440-2311 or 201-787-9406. You can also send us an email us by clicking the contact us page.