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NJ School Leaders Discuss Bullying

Dino Flammia

Inside the Atlantic City Convention Center on Monday, hundreds of New Jersey school administrators attended a panel discussion of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.

The bill of rights, in place for nearly two months, was created to encourage the prevention of bullying in schools by investigating and addressing incidents related to the problem. While also aiming to improve the educational experience in schools, the law was implemented to promote respect among students.

The common word tossed around during the discussion was “confusion”.

“The real problem for a lot of us is treading on First Amendment rights of students, which we are now called upon to do for behavior that doesn’t occur on campus, and that has nothing to do with a forecast of disruption to the school environment,” said Dr. Charles Maranzano, Superintendent of Hopatcong Borough Public Schools.

Dr. Maranzano claimed that training is in progress for faculty, but none was offered prior to the implementation of the law.

“The state fell very short of adequate training for school superintendents, school board and or/teachers,” he said. “We really haven’t received the kind of specialized training to deal with the implementation of this law, prior to its effect.”

Dr. Maranzano said the lack of training is a statewide problem.

Joseph Ricca, Superintendent of Schools in East Hanover Township, said the reaction from his staff has been mixed.

“I think a lot of folks are concerned about the requirements within the law, but at the same time, people understand that this is a very important law, and that the safety and security of our kids in schools is paramount,” Ricca explained.

Several administrators noted the bill of rights is needed, but the law itself is too vague for all districts to handle it correctly.

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