ASSEMBLY APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 2709

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MARCH 12, 2012

 

      The Assembly Appropriations Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 2709.

      This bill provides that, in order to meet the requirements established under the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act,” P.L.2010, c.122 (C.18A:37-13.2 et al.), to implement bullying prevention programs and approaches and to provide training to school employees and volunteers, a school district may use programs and training that may be available at no cost from the Department of Education, the New Jersey State Bar Foundation, or any other entity.  The use of any program or training that would impose a cost on the district would be at the discretion of the district.  In addition, the bill provides that districts, prior to making an application for a grant from the Bullying Prevention Fund, must explore bullying prevention programs and approaches that are available at no cost, and make an affirmative demonstration of that exploration in their grant application.

      The bill also provides that the appropriate combination of services that must be provided by a school district once an incident of harassment, intimidation, or bullying is identified will be those services that are available within the district.  The bill authorizes a school district to apply to the Department of Education for a grant from the Bullying Prevention Fund to support the provision of out-of-district services if the necessary programs and services are not available within the district.

      The bill also establishes a seven-member Anti-Bullying Task Force in but not of the Department of Education.  The task force will be comprised of members who have a background in, or special knowledge of, the legal, policy, educational, social, or psychological aspects of bullying in public schools.  The task force members will be appointed as follows: one by the Senate President; one by the Speaker of the General Assembly; one jointly by the Senate President and the Speaker of the General Assembly; and four by the Governor.  The task force will: provide guidance to school districts on available resources to assist in the implementation of the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act,” P.L.2010, c.122 (C.18A:37-13.2 et al.); examine the implementation of the act; draft model regulations and submit them to the Commissioner of Education for use in promulgating regulations to implement the provisions of the act; present any recommendations regarding the act deemed to be necessary and appropriate; and prepare a report within 180 days of its organizational meeting, and annually for the following three years, on the effectiveness of the act in addressing bullying in schools.  The report will be submitted to the commissioner, to the Governor, and to the Legislature, and the task force will expire upon the submission of its final report.

      Finally, the bill appropriates $1 million to the Bullying Prevention Fund.

 

FISCAL IMPACT:

      This bill appropriates $1 million to the Bullying Prevention Fund established pursuant to section 25 of the bill.