BULLYING INVESTIGATION APPEALS

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Under New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (the “Anti-Bullying Law”), the district superintendent is required to issue a report to the board of education concerning the outcome of any investigation of harassment, intimidation or bullying (“HIB”).  Let’s say, however, that you disagree with the report’s findings, the investigation or some other aspect of the process.  What are your options?  The Anti-Bullying Law and other laws provide for a number of steps to contest (i.e., appeal) the report. 

 Board of Education Hearing

 Under the Anti-Bullying Law, a parent may request a hearing before the board of education after receiving information about the investigation.  The hearing is required to be held in an executive session with the board of education, to ensure student confidentiality, and must occur within 10 days of the parent’s request.

 The New Jersey Commissioner of Education has held that “the parents need to request a hearing before the ‘next’ board meeting takes place.” (See decision.)  I personally do not agree with that conclusion because, among other reasons, the Anti-Bullying Law does not specify a time limit.  However, in an abundance of caution, the parent’s request should generally be made before any deadline imposed by the district or before the board of education meets the next time to decide whether to adopt the superintendent’s report. 

 Appeal to the Commissioner of Education

 If a parent disputes the board of education’s final decision, they may file any appeal with the Commissioner of Education.  The appeal must be filed within 90 days of the board of education issuing its decision.  Basic information as to how to file an appeal can be found here at the Department of Education’s website and a form for parents proceeding on their own can be found here.

 Appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court

 If a parent disputes the decision of the Commissioner of Education, they may file an appeal with the Appellate Division of the Superior Court within 45 days of the decision.  An appeal to the Appellate Division can be a complicated process and parents are advised to seek the assistance of a lawyer or appellate service.  However, a Pro Se Kit is available to help those parents who wish to go it alone.

ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. This document is provided by P. Taylor Legal, PLLC for information purposes only and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

Philip Taylor