TRENTON, January 27, 2012—The executive director of the New Jersey School Boards Association this afternoon commented on the decision by the state’s Council on Local Mandates, declaring the state’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights to be unconstitutional unless the Legislature provides funding for its implementation.
“The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights is a well-intentioned statute designed to ensure that no child is ever afraid to go to school because of harassment or intimidation,” said Marie S. Bilik, NJSBA executive director. “Unfortunately, the legislation required more work prior to enactment, including consideration of the financial and staffing burdens placed on local school districts.”
She continued, “NJSBA welcomes the opportunity to work with the state Legislature and the Department of Education to design a process that protects our children, provides adequate state financial support and accomplishes its goal effectively without diverting resources from other critical school programs.”
The Council on Local Mandates was established following voter adoption of a 1995 constitutional amendment prohibiting the imposition of new unfunded state mandates on local school districts, municipalities or counties. Today’s decision will go into effect 60 days from now.
NJSBA did not participate in the complaint before the Council. The Association had planned a data collection project to quantify any statewide financial and administrative burdens imposed by the statute and to use the information to propose amendments to the law. NJSBA plans to pursue the project since the results may prove useful as the Legislature continues to address the issue.
The New Jersey School Boards Association is a federation of 587 local boards of education and includes 65 charter school associate members. NJSBA advocates the interests of school districts, trains local school board members, and provides resources for the advancement of public education.