Seitz: Schools Will Follow Anti-Bullying Law
Though law is ruled unconstitutional, Par-Troy schools superintendent says effort to keep kids safe will continue.
Anti-bullying efforts in township public schools will continue, says Parsippany schools Superintendent LeRoy Seitz. His statement comes after the state Council on Local Mandates on Friday ruled that the new law designed to reduce acts of harrassment, intimidation and bullying in schools is unconstitutional.
The law, which went into effect in September, requires schools to invest time into training staff, compiling reports and investigating bullying incidents in an effort to promote tolerance and keep children safe. The state panel struck down the measure because it found that the law doesn't provide funding for schools to be able to comply fully. The council's ruling goes into effect in 60 days.
"Our HIB process has been up and running since the beginning of the school year and we are following the law," Seitz said.
Even before the law took effect, the Parsippany school district put many initiatives into place to promote tolerance among students. Over the summer, students from both area high schools took part in a Student Leadership Retreat. After the school year began, the district introduced area teens to Rachel's Challenge, the national effort inspired by the first student killed in the 1999 Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colo., an incident believed to have been sparked by bullying in school.
Many Parsippany school walls throughout the district feature student-created art focused on the issues of embracing diversity, tolerating others and ending intimidation.
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), the lead sponsor of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, called the decision "devastating" for bullied students and said lawmakers would "find a way to make this law workable for everyone."
The anti-bullying law was sparked by the 2010 suicide of a Rutgers University freshman whose roommate allegedly used a webcam to video him with another man. The tragedy led to anti-bullying efforts across the nation, including the It Gets Better campaign, which seeks to give encouragement to LGBT youth and other bullied kids.