TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Barbara Buono and Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg that allows school districts to continue to implement anti-bullying prevention and training programs at no cost to the district was signed into law by Governor Christie.
“The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights is an imperative piece of legislation that shows students across the Garden State that we will not condone harassment or violence in our schools and that school communities will stand up for bullied students to help and protect them,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex. “I am proud that we were able to quickly and effectively determine a working solution to problems that have arisen in the implementation of this legislation so that we can continue to protect the physical and emotional well-being of our children.”
The law (S-1789/A-2709) appropriates $1 million to the Bullying Prevention Fund to assist school districts in implementing the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.” In order for a school district to apply for a grant from the Bullying Prevention Fund, they will be required to exhaust free alternatives such as training and programs available at no cost from the Department of Education, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation or any other entity.
The law is necessary to deter a formal ruling by the Council on Local Mandates that certain parts of the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act” represent an unfunded mandate.
Additionally, the law establishes a seven-member Anti-Bullying Task Force in, but not of, the Department of Education to provide guidance to school districts on available resources to assist in the implementation and review of the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.” The Task Force will be required to prepare a report within 180 days of the organizational meeting and annually for the following three years on the effectiveness of the Act in addressing bullying in schools.
“I am pleased that with this bill being signed into law, we have been able to strengthen what was already the strictest and most comprehensive anti-bullying legislation in the country,” said Senate Majority Leader Weinberg, D-Bergen. “We are seeing the beginning of a cultural change in the state in which parents, teachers and administrators are recognizing the effects of bullying and in which students are rejecting aggressive behavior towards their peers. With this new law, we can be sure that these efforts will continue until all children feel safe at school.”
The bill passed in the Senate with a vote of 35-0 and in the Assembly with a vote of 72-2-3 earlier this month.