District Receives Anti-Bullying Funding
The board of education approved an award for funds of $4,283 from the State Department of Education at its last meeting.
"I wasn’t expecting anything from the way they run this," said Watson, who openly supported the legal challenge to the anti-bullying law made in January by the Allamuchy School District. "But it aligns itself with the methodology that the state department has used for funding in every area for public schools."
After the Council on Local Mandates ruled the law unconstitutional in January, the state legislature amended the law -- viewed by many as critical to education in the state -- to provide $1 million to pay for the program's costs throughout the state.
Districts had until May 11 to apply for the funding.
“It will be interesting to see how far this money will go," the executive director of the New Jersey Association of School Business Officials, John Donahue, told NJ Spotlight in April. “If you think about it, if even just half of the districts apply, that’s just $3,000 per district."
In January, Watson said the cost to implement the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights in Fair Lawn -- between consulting with the school board attorney and doling out overtime to workers for training sessions -- exceeded $4,000.
Other districts, a survey by Donahue’s organization and the state’s School Boards Association found, have reported spending as much as $40,000 to comply with the law.
Watson said that in Fair Lawn the money will be used to reimburse the cost of required anti-bullying training for personnel.
"It’s going to reimburse the board for the expenditures we laid out to get through the first year," he said. "We’ll just reimburse the board for the cost that it put out that wasn’t budgeted."
Out of 67 reported Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying incidents during the first semester of the school year, anti-bullying investigations determined that 28 were warranted. Other than the high school (12 HIB incidents) and Memorial Middle School (10 HIB incidents), there were only six other HIB incidents districtwide.