The State Council on Local Mandates has struck down New Jersey’s anti-bullying law as an unfunded mandate. The Allumuchy school district (Warren County) fought the law, known as the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act,” on the basis that it imposed costs unjustly on school districts that were required to execute it.
The ruling, which was made in late January, does not go into effect until the council issues its formal opinion in about 60 days.
It will be up to the Legislature and the governor to fix it. The bill’s sponsors and the governor’s office have indicated a willingness to do so.
The Council on Local Mandates is a bipartisan, nine-member panel. The body voted 7-2 that provisions requiring anti-bullying specialists and training should have come with state funding for it to be legal.
One panelist issued a dissenting opinion that suggested that the state simply needs to provide some funding to help districts. A fund was created by the law to assist districts, but no money was ever appropriated for it.