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New Jersey Passes Landmark Anti-Bullying Legislation With Veto-Proof Majority

Joe.My.God points out that the New Jersey legislature has “overwhelmingly approved” the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, a measure “designed to combat harassment, intimidation and bullying among students.” The bill, which comes in the wake of the suicide of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi — who threw himself off the George Washington bridge after his roommate broadcast an internet feed of him engaged in sexual activity with another man — passed the State Senate and the General Assembly with a veto-proof margin of 30 to 0 and 72 to 1, respectively.

The Bill of Rights eliminates “the vagueness and loopholes that weaken the anti-bullying laws of the 45 states that have them” and establishes a method of enforcement to ensure school compliance. Below are some of the highlights of the new measure:

– The legislation is the first in America to set firm statewide deadlines for incidents of bullying to be reported, investigated and resolved. Teachers and other school personnel will have to report incidents of bullying to principals on the same day as a bullying incident. An investigation of the bullying must begin within one school day. A school will have to complete its investigation of bullying within 10 school days,after which there must be a resolution of the situation.

– The legislation is the first in America to create a anti-bullying team at each school led by a designated anti-bullying specialist. Also serving on a school’s anti-bullying team will be the principal, a teacher and a parent, and others appointed by the principal.

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– The legislation is the first in America to grade every school on how well it is countering bullying — and requires that every school post its grade on the home page of its website. Every school will also be required to post on the home page of its website the contact information for the school’s anti-bullying specialist.

– The legislation incorporates instruction appropriate to each grade to counter bullying, and creates an annual school-wide Week of Respect during which each school will provide anti-bullying programming.

– The legislation strengthens suicide prevention training for teachers, to include information on reducing the occurrence of suicide among bullied students.

Gov. Chris Christie (R) has not said whether he would sign the bill, but “he spoke out against bullying after Clementi’s death.” If he vetoes the measure, the state legislature should be able to pass an override by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members of each house (27 votes in the Senate; 54 votes in the General Assembly.)