Scarinci Hollenbeck Attorneys John G. Geppert and Sarah A. Gober Secure Favorable Decision for Northfield Board of Education
Scarinci Hollenbeck is pleased to announce Partner and Chair of the firm’s education law practice group John G. Geppert and Senior Associate Sarah A. Gober secured a key ruling on behalf of the Northfield Board of Education. The Commissioner of Education concluded that the Board conducted a sufficiently complete investigation into allegations of harassment, intimidation, and bullying.
“Bullying allegations can often lead to legal disputes,” Geppert stated. “We are very pleased that the Commissioner confirmed the Board satisfied its obligations under the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.”
Background of the Case
New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, which took effect in 2011, establishes requirements that school districts and schools must follow in preventing and responding to harassment, intimidation, and bullying. The requirements include implementing anti-bullying prevention policies and taking certain steps when harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying is reported.
In October 2019, the Petitioners, parents of a kindergarten student who attended the Northfield Community School during the 2018-2019 school year, appealed a finding by the Northfield Board of Education (Board) that their child was not the victim of harassment, intimidation, and/or bullying and also alleged the investigation conducted by the Board was procedurally defective because it was not conducted in accordance with the timelines set forth in the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.
The matter was submitted to the court, which rejected the Petitioners’ contention that the Board’s investigation was flawed. The court also found that given the limited information provided to the District by the Petitioners regarding the nature of their complaint, and given that the District was not permitted to interview their child, the Board’s determination was based on a sufficiently complete investigation and was not arbitrary, capricious, or unreasonable. In late October, the Commissioner issued a final decision adopting the court’s initial decision in favor of the Board, finding that it had conducted a complete investigation.
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