The new law will require training for most public school employees on how to spot bullying and mandate that all districts form “school safety teams” to review complaints.
It will also require school Superintendents to report incidents of bullying to the state Board of Education or face disciplinary action. Students who bully, harass or intimidate other students could be suspended or expelled.
The measure, passed by New Jersey lawmakers last November, fills gaps in the state’s first anti-bullying law, passed in 2002, that encouraged school districts to set up anti-bullying programs but did not mandate it.
“This is one of the great civil rights laws in New Jersey history, and to have a fairly conservative Republican governor sign it sends a resounding signal to other states,” said Steven Goldstein, chairman of Garden State Equality.
The bill has been in the works for some time but gained attention after the high-profile suicide of Rutgers University freshman Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death after his roommate allegedly streamed a romantic encounter between him and another man online.
The law goes into effect at the start of the next school year, and applies to public schools; portions of the new law apply to public colleges as well.