Remedies Under the New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act

The New Jersey Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act (ABR) (N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13 et. seq.) establishes procedures for school districts and the New Jersey Department of Education to handle incidents of bullying, harassment, and intimidation. The ABR covers bullying incidents that take place on school grounds, at school events, on school buses, or even off school grounds, if the incident substantially interferes or disrupts school operations or the rights of other students. In order to qualify as bullying, the incident must be reasonably perceived as being motivated by race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, a mental, physical, or sensory disability, or any other distinguishing characteristic.

Under the ABR, a school district must immediately notify the parents of all suspected offenders and suspected victims as soon as possible following a complaint of bullying. If the complainant is a school employee, contractor, or volunteer, the complainant must create a written report. A school official must begin an investigation into the incident no later than one school day following the report, and the investigation must be complete within ten school days of the written report. The Chief School Administrator (CSA) then must take one of the following actions:

  • Impose discipline
  • Provide intervention services
  • Create training programs related to bullying
  • Order counseling
  • Take any other action necessary to address the incident and prevent future incidents

Next, the CSA must report the incident and the results of the investigation to the Board of Education by the first board meeting following the completion of the investigation. Within five days after the results of the investigation are reported to the Board of Education, the CSA must provide information regarding the investigation and its outcome to the parents.

If parents are unhappy with the investigation or its outcome, they have the right to request a hearing before the Board of Education. See Guidance for Parents on the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. A hearing must be held within ten days of the date that a parent requested it. Following the hearing, the Board of Education must produce a written decision that either upholds, rejects, or changes the CSA’s decision. If the parents disagree with the Board’s decision, they can further appeal to the Commission of Education within 90 days of the Board’s decision. Parents who are dissatisfied with the Commission’s decision then can appeal to the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Parents have other options to protect their students’ rights, as well. For instance, a parent could file a complaint with the Division on Civil Rights Under the Law Against Discrimination (LAD), if there is reason to believe that the bullying was motivated by one of LAD’s bias categories. Parents also can take their complaints and concerns to their county office of education, which is the representative of the New Jersey Department of Education’s (NJDOE) in each county. If they believe that there has been a violation of the law, parents also have the option of calling the police and reporting the alleged crime.

At Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC , our attorneys are here to handle all of the different issues that involve families and children, including bullying. We understand how difficult and stressful these types of cases can be in some situations, but we are here to help guide you through these and any other family-related legal proceedings that you may be facing. Contact our offices today to schedule an appointment with one of our highly experienced New Jersey lawyers and see what we can do to help with your case.

Why Should I Ask the Court to Seal the Record for My Child’s Name Change?

As a general rule, records of a child’s name change are open to the public. New Jersey law generally requires that the proposed name changes of both adults and children be published in order to provide public notice to creditors and other interested parties. However, there are situations in which a court may seal its records of a child’s name change, as well as eliminate the publication requirement for a name change case. Normally, notice of the name change must be published twice in a newspaper of general circulation, once prior to the name change hearing and once after the name change hearing.

At least one New Jersey case, The Application of E.F.G. to Assume a New Name, 398 N.J. Super. 539 (App.  Div. 2008), provides that public notice of a name change through publication may not be a requirement in some circumstances, such as when the person seeking to change his or her name has been a victim of domestic violence. If a victim’s right to protect himself or herself and his or her identity is a sufficiently compelling interest, the court also can order that the court records relating to the name change be sealed, which means that they are not available for public viewing. New Jersey Rule of Court 1:2-1. This precaution prevents the abusive person from discovering the current address and new name of the victim. If you are seeking to seal name change records for your child, you must demonstrate a well-founded concern for your child’s safety if his or her name change records were to be made public. Therefore, if a child has suffered past abuse or violence at the hands of a parent, relative, or other adult, it may be in the child’s best interests for the court records to be sealed.

The New Jersey family law attorneys at Argentino Family Law & Child Advocacy, LLC, are eager to answer your questions and help you understand the procedures for changing your child’s name, as well as sealing the court record. As your attorneys, we will focus on how best to represent your interests and achieve your desired goals. We have handled countless name change, parentage, divorce, and other family law proceedings over the years, and we will work with you to create the best strategy possible in your case. Call our offices today at (973) 868-0958 and learn how we can help you with your New Jersey family law case.