|Gov. Chris Christie on Monday signed amendments (A-2709/S-1754) to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights that will appropriate $1 million for costs, including personnel expenses, incurred by local school districts in implementing the act. The amendments also create a seven-member task force that will advise the New Jersey Department of Education on developing regulations to further define and implement the law and identify resources available to school districts.
The amendments are in response to a Jan. 27 finding by the Council on Local Mandates which found that, unless the Legislature provided funding for its implementation, the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act was a new unfunded state mandate as prohibited by a 1995 amendment to the state Constitution. The council acted on a complaint filed by the Allamuchy Township Board of Education. However, the council has not yet issued its formal report.
NJSBA supports the intent of the amendments, which is to preserve the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights' goal to protect children, while relieving districts of financial burdens in administering the lawand providing clarification to ensure effective and consistent implementation.
In recent testimony to the Legislature on the amendments, the Association questioned whether $1 million was sufficient to fund districts for the costs of the bill. NJSBA, in cooperation with the New Jersey Association of School Administrators and the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, conducted surveys of school business administrators and superintendents about the financial and staffing impact of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights on local school districts. Over one-third of the state’s school districts were represented in the responses, which showed that more than $2 million was spent on personnel, training and software to implement the law.