NEW JERSEY BULLYING COMPLAINT AND REPORTING OPTIONS
Under New Jersey’s anti-bullying law, officially known as the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (the “Anti-Bullying Law”), students and their parents have a number of options to report instances of bullying, harassment and intimidation (“HIB”).
Reporting to School Personnel
The primary means for reporting acts of HIB are to school personnel such as a teacher, guidance counselor (who often will serve as the school’s anti-bullying specialist), principal, district superintendent or other school officials. In all instances of an HIB report, the school official is required to notify the principal and an investigation is to be conducted.
School officials’ contact information can generally be found on your school’s website. Contact information for district officials can be found here on the Department of Education’s website by searching for your district.
The Anti-Bullying Law requires districts to have in place a means to anonymously report HIB complaints. Anonymous HIB reporting provides an important avenue of redress for those who fear retaliation and reprisal for speaking up.
Although the means of anonymous reporting varies by district, parents in certain districts have the ability to report through a software called HIBster. However, you will need to check with your district to determine where an anonymous report may be made.
County Office of Education
If a parent believes that the school district has failed to comply with its own HIB policies or its actions are not meeting the requirements of the Anti-Bullying Law, then they may contact their County Office of Education. The County Office of Education, in their discretion, may commence an investigation of the reported issues.
A list of the County Offices of Education is available here at the Department of Education’s website.
File a Complaint with the Division of Civil Rights or in Court
To the extent an act of HIB was motivated by a bias covered by New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination (e.g., race, sexual orientation, disability and other biases), students and parents may consider filing a complaint with the Division of Civil Rights or the Superior Court of New Jersey.
The Civil Rights Division’s website provides helpful information concerning the Law Against Discrimination and how to file a complaint. It is important to note that a complaint with the Division must be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident. Information on filing a complaint in Superior Court can be found in the state’s Guide for Parents as well as from an attorney.
Contact Law Enforcement
If parents believe that a law has been broken or that there is a threat to your child’s physical safety, law enforcement should be contacted. Parents should use their judgment as to when contacting the police is appropriate.
Although there are a number of bullying related organizations that can be found on the internet, the following organizations have been at the forefront of the Anti-Bullying Law and are great resources for New Jersey parents looking to learn more:
Anti-Bullying Helpline: 1 (877) NJBULLY
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.