Manalapan-Englishtown Regional School District Superintendent John J. Marciante has decided to modify the implementation of the new Harrassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) law. According to Marciante, many parents were upset that a formal letter would be placed in a student's file if that student committed an act of HIB.
"[The letter] was the major concern of almost every parent. It wasn't about what we were trying to do and I don't think that anyone argued when we talked about what their child may have done, but it was the letter going in the file," Marciante said.
The state's new anti-bullying law, which went into effect this September, is currently the strictest in the nation. The State Department of Education is presently reviewing how HIB violations should be documented, therefore Marciante is asking that all HIB violation letters currently in a student's file be removed.
Marciante issued a formal statement on this matter, which he read at Monday night's Board of Education meeting and published on the district Web site:
The new Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (H.I.B.) law has promoted a great deal of discussion in the media and the community. While I believe everyone agrees with the intent of the law, there have been some concerns over its implementation. One procedure that has caused a strong reaction has been the placement of a letter in the files of children who have been determined to have violated the H.I.B. policy. I have been informed that the State Department of Education is currently reviewing how incidents of H.I.B should be documented. Considering that this review is in process, I hereby direct that all principals in the district remove any letters currently placed in a student's file documenting H.I.B. Until I receive specific direction from the State on this matter, incidents of H.I.B. will be documented in the same manner as any other violation of the student code of conduct.
Most state wide initiatives require modification once they move from the Department of Education in Trenton and reach the reality of the local schools. I am sure that over the next several months all the kinks of the law will be worked out and the end result will be a school environment where all children can feel safe and learn. Thank you for your understanding.
John J. Marciante, Jr., Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools