Bullying or H.I.B.? A Discussion with Montville Twp School Superintendent René Rovtar

Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar ©2017 TAPinto Montville Credits: Melissa Benno

MONTVILLE, NJ – With the tragic suicide of Rockaway Township middle-schooler Mallory Grossman in the back of many parents’ minds, TAPinto Montville had a conversation with Superintendent of Schools René Rovtar to review Montville Township School District’s anti-bullying and HIB (harassment, intimidation and bullying) policy.

Having a HIB policy is dictated by the state and certain components are required, Rovtar said, so most districts’ policies are similar; there is a separate policy for cyber-bullying.

“At 18 pages, it’s probably the longest policy we have,” she said.

Sign Up for E-News

HIB is defined as any gesture, written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, whether it is a single incident or a series of incidents, that are motivated by perceived characteristics like race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or other factors; takes place on school property or a bus; substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operations of school; and creates a hostile educational environment for the student. (Note, this is an abbreviated version of the definition. Read the entire definition here.)

HIB protocol is the same for kindergarten through twelfth grade, Rovtar said, but what may be different is the range of consequences, which may include admonishing, detention or expulsion.

Instances or situations of bullying are brought to their attention by teachers or of course parents, she said. The information then goes to the building principal, she said. Teachers can fill out a report on behalf of parents, or parents can talk to the principal directly.

Director of Counseling Leslee Scheckman is the Anti-Bullying Coordinator for the district, and each building has an anti-bullying specialist who conducts investigations, Rovtar said, usually the counselors. The investigation is made over a ten-day period when the determination of HIB is made, at which time the report comes to her, Rovtar said.

During the investigation, no parents are involved, she said. Students are interviewed, plus any teachers are interviewed. If the parent has initiated the investigation, there is a form to fill out, and Rovtar said it’s very helpful to have as much detail and as many names as possible of people to talk to.

After the HIB report comes to Rovtar, she presents it in closed session to the Board of Education and makes a recommendation in support or rejection of an action on the report. The board passes a resolution to name the incident as HIB or not, and a letter is sent to the accused and the targeted pupils, informing them of the determination, Rovtar said. They are given the option of appealing the finding to the Board of Education, she said, which is also conducted in closed session.

“I tell them that if they have some factual information that supports their position as to why the decision is wrong, then they can come and share the information with the board,” she said. “The board passes a resolution upholding the finding or reversing it.”

“The problem with HIB, though, is that it reflects the law and how New Jersey defines bullying,” Rovtar said. “It focuses on perceived or actual characteristics – their race, gender and other factors. Parents’ definition is different, and it doesn’t meet the state’s definition. A mean person in the schoolyard doesn’t meet the state’s definition – it’s conflict. Parents have become more familiar with what HIB is in NJ, but there are still some misconceptions about how that word is used. There are these very subtle nuances about the differences. But if parents are not satisfied with the outcome of hearings, they can appeal to the State Office of Controversy and Disputes.”

When asked if parents should confront other parents about problems at the playground, Rovtar replied, “People have ascribed a lot of responsibility to schools and school districts. My mom would have called [the other parent]. I hope people could call respectfully and from a position of trying to come to common ground. I have no control over what happens outside of school. I don’t think it’s wrong for parents to address these things with other parents.”

When asked if parents should call the police over bullying matters, Rovtar said the district’s policy specifically states that they should.

“It’s our desire to have a safe environment for all our students and staff, but if there’s a situation in which our efforts are not 100 percent effective, I would always encourage parents to contact the police, particularly for things that happen outside the school setting. Our jurisdiction is very limited,” she said.

Regarding social media and cyber-bullying, Rovtar said, “We know we can’t police social media. The responsibility lies with the parents. We try, but we don’t have the kids under our control 24 hours a day. Some of the kids need additional guidance in terms of how to utilize the devices. The parents are the ones who give their kids the devices.”

Rovtar urged parents to reach out to their child’s school counselor if their student exhibits signs that they’re being bullied, like reluctance to go to school or constant stomach aches.

“Kids’ social interaction changes as the wind blows, and there are days when they just don’t want to go to school,” she said. “But this goes deeper than that. We can meet with the child and we have various resources. It’s important to get to the heart of the problem as early as possible before it becomes a bigger problem.”


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events

Tue, May 22, 10:00 AM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville




Thu, May 24, 6:30 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Tech Class: Online Product Research



Thu, May 24, 7:30 PM

Montville Township Municipal Building, Montville

Planning Board Meeting



Sun, May 27, 2:00 PM

Pyramid Mountain, Montville Township

Woodland Tree Walk: Moderate

Health & Wellness


Mon, May 28

Montville Township, Montville

Memorial Day

Giving Back

JCP&L to Attend Montville Township Committee Meeting

May 21, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township administration announced that a representative from JCP&L will attend the Tuesday, May 22 Montville Township Committee meeting to discuss the company’s response to the recent storm events as well as answer questions from the public.  The meeting will take place at Montville Township Town Hall, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, at ...

Montville Police Touch-A-Truck Event Drives it Home

May 18, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Montville Township Police Department sponsored the Touch-A-Truck event on Sunday, May 6, at which dozens of township and commercial vehicles parked at the high school, allowing kids to see the vehicles, talk to the owners, and meet emergency personnel from across the township.

“We wanted to put a face to the first responders the kids may encounter in an ...

Cedar Hill 5th Grader Gets Pied for a Purpose

May 20, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Joe Signorella, a fifth grader at Cedar Hill Elementary School in Towaco, wanted to come up with a great idea for his Treps marketplace booth. Treps is an afterschool program that teaches the students how to run a business: advertising, pricing, financing. But first you have to come up with your product or service.

Joe had some ideas, like selling soccer balls since he ...

10-Year Old Boy Battling Cancer Receives Generous Donation From Randolph Hockey Family

May 20, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- While the inter-town hockey battles on the ice between Randolph and Roxbury are fierce at every age level, when it comes to real life battles off the ice there is no hesitation to offer help to their neighbor.

Such is the case with a recent gesture of unity and support from the Randolph Varsity hockey team, when they came together to deliver good wishes and ...

A.J. Perri Helping Veterans in Need - Again

May 19, 2018

TINTON FALLS, NJ – A.J. Perri is back helping veterans in need – this time launching a search for veterans and their families through a partnership with ABC-TV.

As part of the A.J. Perri Cares Program, a lucky New Jersey veteran and their family will receive air conditioning/heating relief this summer.

"They fought for our country, and their families sacrificed," said ...

JCP&L to Attend Montville Township Committee Meeting

May 21, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – Montville Township administration announced that a representative from JCP&L will attend the Tuesday, May 22 Montville Township Committee meeting to discuss the company’s response to the recent storm events as well as answer questions from the public.  The meeting will take place at Montville Township Town Hall, 195 Changebridge Road, Montville, at ...


OPEN HOUSES this weekend 5/19-5/20 2018

The following homes have OPEN HOUSES presented by RE/MAX Neighborhood Properties this weekend.

SATURDAY, MAY 19, 2018:

  From 11 a.m. - 1 p.m.

  44 Union Street, C0008, Montclair

  Click HERE to see Full Listing.


SUNDAY, MAY 20, 2018:

  From 1 - 4 p.m.

  9 Condit Road, Mountain Lakes

   Click HERE to see Full ...

Open Houses This Weekend 5/12-5/13 2018

The following homes have Open Houses presented by RE/MAX Neighborhood Properties this weekend.

SATURDAY, MAY 12, 2018:

  From 1 - 4 p.m.

  34 Brittany Road, Montville.

  Click HERE to see the full listing.


  From 1 - 3 p.m.

  15 Linda Court, Montville.

  Click HERE to see the full listing.


  From 2 - 4 p.m.

  7 ...

SURVIVING A STROKE: Quick Medical Response Gives Mom Her Life Back

Carotid artery dissection. It’s one of the most common causes of stroke in younger adults.

And while you might not associate the word “stroke” with younger patients, the condition – if not treated immediately – could lead to paralysis and even death.

Lindsey Singh can attest to the importance of immediacy. The 31-year-old mother of two from Flanders experienced ...

Century 21 Open Houses this Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses for this weekend:

Saturday, May 12 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, May 13 from 1 - 3 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using FGPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
18 Renshaw Drive, Montville 


AtlantiCast: Episode 15

On this week’s AtlantiCast, learn some important tips for controlling and avoiding diabetes from an Atlantic Health System expert, see how Atlantic Health is advancing cutting-edge research, hear what’s being done to keep health care environmentally friendly and much more!


'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...

'The Sting' with Harry Connick Jr. Slithers and Shakes at Paper Mill

MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and Chicago.  Scott Joplin’s music is intertwined with the show, especially “The ...

Pet Corner