HARASSMENT, INTIMIDATION, and BULLYING
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Harassment, Intimidation & Bullying?
HIB is defined in both the law and Board policy as: Any gesture or written, verbal or physical act or any electronic communication which is:
(i) motivated by any actual or perceived characteristic such as race, color, religion, ancestry, nation origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or disability, or any other distinguishing characteristic(s); and
(ii) which takes place on school property, on a school bus, at a school sponsored or related event or even off school grounds in certain circumstances
a. A reasonable person should know, under the circumstances, that the actions will physically or emotionally harm the student or damage the student's property, that the actions would place a student in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his person or property; or
b. has the effect of insulting or demeaning the student or groups of students, or
c. interferes with the student’s education or is severe or pervasive enough that it causes physical or emotional harm to a student.
Are all conflicts bullying?
Conflicts at school will occur. However, conflict and bullying are very different. Conflict is considered mutual, meaning all participants play some part in initiating, continuing or engaging in the disagreement. Bullying, on the other hand, is one-sided. There is no mutual participation in the actions. It may or may not involve several people. Although not all incidents will fall under the definition of HIB this does not mean that the situation will not be dealt with appropriately. All conduct infractions are subject to Code of Student Conduct.
What should a parent do if they believe their child is being bullied?
If you suspect that your child is being bullied at school, report the matter to school officials, fill out a HIB complaint and assure your child that school personnel will assist in helping to resolve the problem. HIB complaint forms can be found on the District’s website.
If an incident is determined not to be HIB, does that mean that the school won’t look into the matter?
No. Many incidents that do not fall under the law’s definition will violate the School’s Code of Conduct. In such a case, consequences will be imposed even before an HIB investigation is initiated.
Can a parent refuse to allow school staff to speak with their child?
No. School personnel will determine with whom and when it will discuss school matters with students. In order to protect the identity and personal information of the students involved and to guard the integrity of the investigation, parents are not permitted to sit-in with their student when the incident is discussed.
What should I do if my child is accused of harassment, intimidation or bullying?
Don’t panic. Students, particularly young students, may pick up on a parent’s anxiety over the situation. Conflict resolution, coping skills and learning about differences among peers are part of the educational process that the ABR seeks to strengthen in school districts. The ABR is not a criminal statute and students are treated with respect, care and due regard by administrators, teachers, and the ABS throughout the process. Encourage your student to be truthful and reassure them that staff members are present to help them and all students feel safe and secure when attending school.
How does the District investigate HIB that occurs via electronic communications?
The District will respond to complaints of electronic HIB by collecting objective information from any involved students. Although the District will investigate, the District may not be able to uncover the identities of any particular individuals involved.
What consequences can the District impose for HIB conduct that occurs off school property?
Actions that occur off school property, including social media postings that occur outside of school hours, must meet an additional prong of the HIB law in order for school personnel to impose consequences against the aggressor.
What if the investigation determines that the student’s actions constitute HIB?
The student will receive consequences at the school level based on the code of conduct policy. Examples of consequences and/or services include, but are not limited to, individual or small group counseling, social skills instruction, peer support groups, written or verbal apology, detention (staying in for lunch at the younger grades), or suspension.
What happens to my child’s records if it is determined that my child has engaged in an act of HIB?
Reports of HIB investigations are kept at the school and district level. Investigation reports are not kept in the student’s cumulative file. If a student receives a discipline consequence that is reported as a detention or suspension, that information is recorded. The District is legally required to transfer a student’s disciplinary file to any other New Jersey public school district to which a student transfers at the time the transfer occurs.