Harassment, Intimidation, And Bullying And Youngsters With Disabilities – Shopper Safety

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Harassment, intimidation and bullying and children with disabilities

May 07, 2021

Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti

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The US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office reports that students who receive disability-related services “are bullied or harassed more than their … colleagues” and are “disproportionately affected by bullying.” New Jersey law provides important remedial action against bullying through the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. (“ABRA”, NJSA 18A: 37-14 ff.).

Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (“HIB”) have been broadly defined under New Jersey law. An HIB incident occurs whenever there is a reasonable assumption that the incident was caused by “an actual or perceived characteristic (e.g.,” he is overweight “,” she is deaf “,” he is a poor student “) is motivated as long as the incident disrupts the normal operation of the school or, generally, the victim’s rights, as long as a reasonable person should know that the incident would cause physical or emotional harm, or insult or demean the victim, or create a hostile environment for the victim .

The harassing or bullying incident does not have to take place on the school premises. As long as a school employee is made aware of the incident and the incident significantly disrupts or impairs the proper operation of the school or the target child’s rights to education, HIB may make a determination. In the age of cyber bullying, this is an important protection. In fact, the ABRA HIB expressly prohibits the use of a “telephone, cellular phone, computer, or pager” regardless of whether the use of the device was made on the school premises.

Parents can take several steps to respond to an HIB incident. The first is to contact your child’s school principal or the school principal. The law makes it clear how important speed is in this context. For example, if the first contact is with a teacher or administrative assistant to the headmaster, they must report immediately: “All harassment, intimidation and bullying must be reported verbally to the headmaster on the same day.” “The law goes on:” The investigation is carried out by the headmaster initiated. Within one school day. The investigation must be completed. No later than 10 school days after the date of the written report of the incident. “…” This language shows how strongly the legislature – who is aware of how dangerous bullying can be in school if it is not stopped immediately – the need felt immediate intervention. Legislators not only urged school districts to comply with the ABRA requirements, but also encouraged state-approved private schools for students with disabilities to follow the ABRA.

We recommend that parents report not only to their child’s school principal but also to the Child Study Team (“CST”) as HIB often discourages a disabled child from receiving free and adequate education (“FAPE”). To take just one example, the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Bureau found that over 10% of all HIB incidents involve “allegations of discrimination against a student with ADHD.” Experts believe that if a student is bullied, they can bully in return; The CST must therefore be notified of any incident from HIB as soon as possible to ensure that the student can receive all of the benefits and support expected under their IEP or 504 plan. If necessary, the IEP or 504 plan can be modified to protect a child from HIB.

The law helps victims of school bullying by providing multiple vehicles for victims and their parents to use to fight back. If the school district does not do enough to control the bullying, the parent can contact their New Jersey Department of Education District Office (“NJDOE”) and / or the NJ Civil Rights Department if they do, as usual, based on HIB on the victim’s membership in a protected class, which includes a disability. Of course, a parent can always contact the local police if the HIB is found to be relatively dangerous. Finally, the parent can file a civil action with the Supreme Court against the bully, the bully’s parents, and the school or school district.

School districts must keep and maintain accurate records of HIB complaints and investigations. If the school district has not adequately combated or addressed the HIB, a school district and its officials can be held civilly liable.

The content of this article is intended to provide general guidance on the subject. A professional should be obtained about your particular circumstances.

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