NJPSA Testifies Before  Joint Committee on School Bullying Issues

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By Debra Bradley

Today, NJPSA shared our views, experiences, and challenges in implementing the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (ABR) in our schools.  Aaron Eyler, the Principal of Matawan Regional High School, David Nash, Esq., Director of Legal Education and National Outreach and Debra Bradley, Esq., NJPSA Director of Government Relations testified before the committee, which is comprised of legislators from both the New Jersey Senate and General Assembly.  NJPSA joined an over two-hour conversation with the Joint Committee and speakers representing the Association of School Counselors, the Statewide Parent Advocacy Network, the NJ Safe Schools Coalition, and others.

Principal Aaron Eyler painted the portrait of what principals and educators are experiencing in our schools in terms of student behaviors post-pandemic. Eyler also addressed issues of cyber-bullying, the lack of tools to address anonymous social media attacks and the need for the Legislature and the Federal government to intervene with social media companies in this area.  David Nash shared implementation issues faced by NJPSA members in conducting HIB investigations, areas of misunderstanding under the ABR between schools and parents and areas of emerging challenge. Bradley referenced recent changes to the ABR that NJPSA was engaged in during the recent legislative session that resulted in P.L. 2022, Chapter 338, the most recent changes to the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.

The issue of bullying in schools has been the steady focus of legislative concern, but recent bullying incidents, including a few cases that resulted in student suicides, have heightened legislative concerns.  A legislative Task Force on Bullying in the Schools that was established by law pre-pandemic, that never met due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, has now been established.  This Task Force held its first meeting this month.  Its focus is on implementation issues under the ABR.  NJPSA will be actively involved in presenting information to the Task Force and will be reaching out to you for your experiences and concerns.

To get engaged with NJPSA in this effort, please contact Debra Bradley, NJPSA Director of Government Relations, dbradley@njpsa.org.