NEW JERSEY BULLYING COMPLAINT AND INVESTIGATION PROCESS

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New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (the “Anti-Bullying Law”) requires schools to have procedures for reporting and investigating acts of harassment, intimidation or bullying (“HIB”).  Here, we look at the various steps involved with those reporting and investigative procedures.

 Verbal Report:  All acts of HIB must be reported by school employees or contracted services providers to the principal on the same day they were witnessed or reliable information concerning an incident was received.

 Parental Notification:  The principal must inform the parents or guardians of all students involved in the incident and, if appropriate, may discuss the availability of counseling or other intervention services.

 Written Report:  Within two (2) school days of witnessing or receiving reliable information concerning an HIB incident, the school employee or contracted service provider must file a written report with the principal.

 Investigation:  One (1) school day after receiving an HIB report, the principal is required to commence an investigation to be conducted by the school’s anti-bullying specialist.  The investigation should be completed as soon as possible, but no later than ten (10) school days after the written report was received.

 Report to Superintendent:  Within two (2) school days of completing the investigation, the results should be reported to the district superintendent.  The superintendent may decide to impose discipline, order counseling, provide intervention services, establish training programs to reduce HIB incidents or take other appropriate actions.

 Report to Board of Education:  The results of the investigation and the action taken by the superintendent shall be reported to the board of education no later than their next meeting.

 Information to Parents:  Within five (5) school days of the report to the board of education, the parents or guardians must be provided with information about the investigation, whether the district found evidence of HIB and whether discipline was imposed or services provided.  The parents or guardian, however, will not be entitled to any confidential or identifying information concerning students other than their child, including any such information included in the investigation report.

 Optional Board Hearing:  After receiving information concerning the investigation, the parents or guardians may request a hearing in front of the board of education if they are unsatisfied with the results or have other issues with the investigation.  The hearing is to be held within ten (10) days of the request and must be held in executive session to protect the confidentiality of the students.

 Board of Education Decision:  At the next meeting following receipt of the HIB investigation report, the board of education must issue a written decision upholding, rejecting or modifying the superintendent’s decision.  If the parents or guardians do not agree with the board of education’s decision, it may be appealed within ninety (90) days of issuance to the Commissioner of Education.

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Philip Taylor