Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying
Board of Education Policy #5512
The Board of Education prohibits acts of harassment, intimidation, or bullying of a student. A safe and civil environment in schools is necessary for students to learn and achieve high academic standards. Harassment, intimidation, or bullying like other disruptive/violent behaviors is conduct that disrupts both a student’s ability to learn and a school’s ability to educate in a safe and disciplined environment.In all such instances, such behavior will not be tolerated and will be addressed according to Board of Education Policy #5512.“Harassment, intimidation, or bullying” means any gesture, any written, verbal, physical act, or any electronic communication as defined in N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14, whether it be a single incident or a series of incidents that:
A. Is reasonably perceived as being motivated by either any actual or perceived characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression, or a mental, physical or sensory disability; or by any other distinguishing characteristic; and that
B. Takes place on school property, at any school-sponsored function, on a school bus or off school grounds as provided for in N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15.3, that substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students; and that
C. A reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, that the act(s) will have the effect of physically or emotionally harming a student or damaging the student's property, or placing a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his/her person or damage to his/her property; or
E. Creates a hostile educational environment for the student by interfering with a student's education or by severely or pervasively causing physical or emotional harm to the student.
F. Schools are required to address harassment, intimidation, and bullying occurring off school grounds, when there is a nexus between the harassment, intimidation, and bullying and the school (e.g., the harassment, intimidation, or bullying substantially disrupts or interferes with the orderly operation of the school or the rights of other students).All cases that are reported as Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying (“HIB”), may not constitute the statutory definition of HIB noted above. Notwithstanding the fact that the conduct may not constitute the statutory definition of HIB, the conduct may be a violation of the Board of Education Discipline/Code of Conduct #5600, or another Policy or Regulation of the Board. In such case, the conduct will be handled in accordance with the applicable Board Policy or Regulation. As recently explained by the Courts:
The statutory definition of “bullying” does not include all violent or aggressive conduct against a student. The definition, both before and after adoption of the 2010 Anti-Bullying Act, refers to conduct that is “reasonably perceived as being motivated” by a “distinguishing characteristic” of the victim, such as, “race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory [disability]” N.J.S.A. 18A:37-14. The statute has not limited “distinguishing characteristic” to those specifically enumerated, but it has consistently required such a perceived motivation. Thus, harmful or demeaning conduct motivated only by another reason, for example, a dispute about relationships or personal belongings, or aggressive conduct without
identifiable motivation, does not come within the statutory definition of bullying.