A noted talk show personality was fond of using the expression, “it’s sick out there and getting sicker!” anytime a ridiculous story would come his way.

The adjudication of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights might be such a story.

I have to believe that our Education Commissioner, having to deal with matters concerning the over 600 school districts in the state are overwhelming enough, without having to render decisions regarding what would best be considered childish pranks.

As an example:

Sticking a crumpled piece of paper down a classmate's shirt was a prank, not bullying, Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf ruled — overturning for the first time a district's finding of bullying under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, according to a report in NJSpotlight.

That report states:

In a decision posted last week, Cerf sided with state Administrative Law Judge W. Todd Miller, who found that the students in the Pittsgrove Township School District had an ongoing conflict. Miller had ruled earlier that the conflict did not amount to bullying, however.

The Spotlight report continues:

The law defines bullying as a conflict based on characteristics such as appearance, race, or ethnicity, but schools have struggled with pinpointing such motives among what are sometimes young students.

“Shoving a piece paper down a student’s shirt is a common and immature prank, much like a child who puts ice or snow down someone’s shirt,” Miller wrote in his March ruling.

“It does not have the aggravating characteristics of malice or intent to significantly disgrace or harm (i.e. bullying), but remains unacceptable behavior.

More to the point, as outlined below, this prank was motivated by the ongoing conflict between the students.”

Here are just a couple more examples cited in the NJSpotlight article:

(This) was the first time under the fledgling law that the commissioner had sided with a family appealing a bullying claim. Last winter, he rejected similar appeals in two separate cases in Tenafly and East Brunswick.

In one case, a sixth-grade student had called another “gay” and said he “danced like a girl.” The other case stemmed from an incident in which a fourth-grader student called out a classmate for having head lice.

As of the end of April, at least 16 cases have been appealed up to the commissioner, according to the state.

So lets review:
16 cases of supposed bullying have been handed up to the Commissioner of Education for his perusal and brought before an administrative law judge

Cases that should never have been brought up in the first place.


Perhaps because “bullying” as it stands now entails just about anything resulting in a conflict between school kids.

Things we took for granted when we were that age.

One commenter to the Spotlight article wrote the following

This is another example of the perils of knee jerk, feel good legislation. This bill was rushed into law after a suicide. It was not well thought out and districts were required to comply with it before regulations were written. A serious overhaul of the ridiculous definition of bullying is imperative.

Posted by suavesue on May 16 at 7:11 AM

True that!