Assemblyman John F. McKeon on Tuesday will keynote a day-long anti-bullying symposium at Seton Hall School of Law just a week after a state panel ruled that a new anti-bullying law amounts to an unfunded mandate and is therefore unconstitutional.
At the symposium, which begins at 9 a.m. at the law school in Newark, McKeon will address plans to restore the “Anti Bullying Bill of Rights” following a recent ruling by the Council of Local Mandates, which struck down four provisions of the law as an unfunded mandate.
"We pledge to work in a bipartisan manner with lawmakers and the Christie administration to find solutions to restore the 'Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights,' a landmark measure to protect our children and youth from harassment and intimidation," McKeon (D-Essex\Morris) recently said in a joint statement with Assemblyman Mila M. Jasey (D-Essex\Morris), another prime sponsor of the measure.
The symposium, which was organized by law students who work for the Legislative Journal. includes three panels on bullying, cyber bullying and the First Amendment and includes panels with lawyers, law professors and public advocates.
In his remarks, McKeon will address efforts to counter bullying in schools and colleges with a focus on the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which strengthens standards for the prevention, reporting, investigation and response to incidents of bullying.
"We plan to closely examine whether the requirements can be implemented by using existing resources, as argued by the state Department of Education in its petition to the Council on Local Mandates,” he said. “The DOE is responsible for providing training to school districts at no cost. If that is not happening, we need to know why. If the funding source named in the bill, the Bullying Prevention Fund, has not been established in the DOE as intended, that too must be explained."
The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights requires school districts to establish bullying prevention programs, form school safety teams and foster and maintain a positive environment. It also requires all teachers, administrators and school board members to complete anti-bullying training. Each district must also establish a district anti-bullying coordinator.
The measure strengthens the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying law (A-1874) enacted in 2002, which McKeon also sponsored.
The day-long symposium, organized by law students Michelle Newton and Marisa Hourdajian, runs from 9 a.m to 4 p.m., and will be held at the Larson Auditorium at the Seton Hall School of Law located at One Newark Center in Newark. Check in and registration is at 8:30 a.m.