Provides that a school district may implement bullying prevention programs and anti-bullying training programs at no cost through various entities; and appropriates $1 million.
NJEA supports S-1789 (Allen, Buono, Weinberg). This legislation amends the "Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act," and appropriates $1 million to the Bullying Prevention Fund. NJEA supported the Anti-Bullying Act of 2010, but at the time, expressed concerns that the state had not committed to invest the resources needed to make the program effective. This legislation takes a step in the right direction toward addressing this concern.
The bill also establishes a seven-member Anti-Bullying Task Force in but not of the Department of Education. The task force will be comprised of members who have a background in, or special knowledge of, the legal, policy, educational, social, or psychological aspects of bullying in public schools. While this Task Force is helpful in providing some guidance to districts, their recommendations will not have the force of law behind them as the Commissioner of Education is not required to implement their recommendations.
NJEA echos the recommendations it made during the discussion on the original bill, specifically that:
- The scope of the school crisis team ought to be expanded.
- Training should be made available to all staff so they will have the tools necessary to effectively deal with incidences of bullying.
- Continued professional development is needed if these efforts are to be successful.
- Having certified specialists is paramount when dealing with bullying, intimidation and harassment. When appointing a certified bullying specialist, consideration must be given to those trained professionals who have the knowledge, background and expertise in this area.
NJEA is pleased that the sponsors of this legislation acted quickly to address the issue raised by the Council on Local Mandates. This law has helped students understand that there is help available in their school to adequately and effectively deal with bullying should they become a victim. When the proper resources are provided to comply with the law, districts can keep teachers teaching in the classroom, counselors doing their job of counseling troubled youth and bullying specialists working with the community and the DOE in complying with the law.
NJEA supports this bill.
Text of bill