TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie has signed legislation that allows school districts to continue to implement anti-bullying prevention and training programs at no cost to the district was signed into law.
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 Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was signed into law last January and went into effect in September with the start of the new school year. In late January of this year, the state Council on Local Mandates found that the law contained unfunded mandates after several school districts filed complaints. The legislature was given 60 days to remedy the law or risk it being invalidated.
“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 state Sen. Barbara 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.”
“I’m pleased that everyone was able to come together to reach a practical solution that puts the safety and well-being of our students first,” said Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “Every student should be entitled to go to school and learn in an environment free of harassment, intimidation and bullying. Helping schools implement this new law will help us better achieve that goal.”
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.
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.
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