Education

BOE Reviews Bullying Policy to Better Understand Incidents in Schools

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BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The policies within New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act and information on how to respond to specific scenarios were reviewed at the July 28 board of education meeting, with a focus on many scenarios that have occurred among students from kindergarten to 12th grade.

Members of the board said they appreciated the opportunity to review the policy to get a better understanding of what actions are considered bullying in schools, and to clarify the difference between a single act of bullying and re-occurring situations.

At the meeting, Philip W. Nicastro, of Strauss Esmay Associates, reviewed the definition of “HIB,” or harassment, intimidation and bullying. He said the four main aspects investigated for reported cases are motivation, location, disruption/rights and harm.

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Nicastro also noted that HIB does not have to be a series of incidents, it can be just one.

After an incident occurs in school and is reported for investigation, the board of education reviews the results no later than the next regularly scheduled meeting. In what Nicastro calls the “5-day letter” parents are notified within five school days of the initial report to the board.

“For every case, we look at the difference between normal conflict and bullying,” said Nicastro.

Normal conflict, he said, includes accidental or not serious incidents between friends, as opposed to acts of intentional harm that qualify as bullying.

Nicastro also noted that, within the state’s policy, records are retained if a student is involved in an HIB case, but it is not on their permanent record that is given to colleges when the student is applying.

In discussion of the policies, the board reviewed various scenarios that have happened or could happen among any age group and what would be considered HIB.

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