New Jersey Attorney General Issues Compliance Handbook Relating to Anti-Bullying Law

On September 20, 2011, the Attorney General's Office issued a revised "Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials". The memorandum describes the strict requirements now incumbent upon New Jersey school officials as a result of New Jersey's recently enacted Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.  

The law is considered the toughest legislation against bullying in the nation. Propelled by public outcry over the suicide of a Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi, nearly a year ago, it demands that all public schools adopt comprehensive antibullying policies (there are 18 pages of “required components”), increase staff training and adhere to tight deadlines for reporting episodes.  The law, which requires each school to appoint an anti-bullying specialist, has sparked much controversy for its broad applicability and intrusive requirements.

Due in part to extensive lobbying efforts conducted by Agudath Israel and other faith-based groups, the law does not apply to private schools.  The final bill “encourages” but does not mandate that non-public schools follow the anti-bullying measures and specifically exempts the legitimate expression or free exercise of the beliefs or tenets of a faith-based school by the school’s faculty, staff, or student body.
 
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