Having turned harsh words between kids into grounds for formal legal action, New Jersey officials are now astonished that children and families on the receiving end of bullying charges are actually making use of the tools at their disposal to defend themselves. In application, this means that judges, attorneys and educrats are wasting time in court parsing the offensiveness of calling a classmate a "fat ass." Actual quote from the Ridgewood school board attorney during a courtroom proceeding: "There is no evidence she condoned being called a horse."
From the Star-Ledger:
The case is typical of a new type of legal phenomenon winding through New Jersey's courts — one not entirely foreseen by many educators and legislators when the state enacted one of the most stringent anti-bullying laws in the country in 2011. The alleged bullies are filing appeals and their parents, often worried about a bullying charge staining a child's school record, are getting involved in hearings before judges from the state Office of Administrative Law.
At least 16 students, parents or teachers have filed appeals with the commissioner of education since New Jersey's Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights took effect in fall 2011; two have been decided so far. An untold number of others — the state does not keep track — have challenged school bullying findings to their local school boards, the first step in the appeal process.
While the overall number may be a small percentage of the more than 12,000 instances of bullying reported in New Jersey schools in the law's first year, a review by The Star-Ledger of appeals showed the issues can get complicated. Many cases involve social media or electronic communication; some pertain to events that did not take place at school. Incidents range from elementary to high school.
Question for legislators and public school apparatchiks: You really didn't see this coming when you put name-calling into the law books? Damn, you're stupid. Whoops! Good thing I'm not in a classroom.
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