In early January, two leaders of the New Jersey Legislature called for a review of sexual harassment policies for state lawmakers and legislative staff. Local school boards may also find it prudent to review district policies on the subject at this time.
To assist local boards of education, NJSBA provides information through its “Critical Policy Reference Manual” (CPRM), a collection of legally sound model policies available to all members, as well as through its staff attorneys and policy consultants.
Key policy areas addressed by the CPRM include the following:
- Administration – Nondiscrimination/Affirmative Action (File Code 2224), which provides a definition of sexual harassment; includes language prohibiting such action by board members, employees, parents, students and those doing business with the district; and prescribes a course of action should such harassment take place.
- Instructional and Support Personnel – Nondiscrimination/Affirmative Action (File Code 4111.1), which states that the “board of education shall maintain a working environment that is free from sexual harassment.” The model policy addresses actions by supervisory staff.
- Students – Equal Educational Opportunity (File Code 5145.4), which includes language addressing sexual harassment involving pupils as victims or perpetrators.
In addition, the January/February issue of NJSBA’s School Leader magazine features an article, “#MeToo in Schools: Education Is Not Immune to Sexual Harassment.”
Written by a school attorney, the article states that “New Jersey school districts should revisit their current practices and policies to make sure they are not tolerating and inadvertently reinforcing sexual harassment in the educational environment.”
The term “#MeToo” in the title of the article refers to a social media movement to bring to light the incidence of sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace and provide support for victims.
“Schools are no different than other workplaces and environments,” writes the author, Carolyn R. Chaudry. “Both students and employees can be vulnerable to sexual harassment.”
NJSBA Critical Policy Reference Manual – njsba.org/services/policy/ (members-only, password protected)
- January/February School Leader – “Legally Speaking: #MeToo in Schools”
- NJSBA Policy Unit – [email protected]
- NJSBA Legal & Labor Relations Services Department – 1-888-886-5722, Ext. 5254 or [email protected].