Free Speech

Eyewitnesses with Their Backs Turned

An interesting “harassment, intimidate, or bullying” investigation case from New Jersey schools.


[Serious error in this post; just deleted it, and will repost with the suitable correction when I figure it out.]

[UPDATE 10/27/2021: The corrected post is here.]

NEXT: Cicero Is My Guidance Consular

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  1. 1. "{Mrs. J. [J.J.'s mother] testified that J.J. has had an individualized education program since preschool for attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and sensory issues"
    2. "Under the ABRA [Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act], "harassment, intimidation or bullying" means any gesture, any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication that is reasonably perceived as being motivated by any actual or perceived distinguishing characteristic, such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, or a mental, physical, or sensory disability, that takes place on school property."

    The investigation itself was an act of bullying, and all involved should be fired.

    1. I was thinking the same thing

    2. Ah, so anyone who says "you just think that because you're a white male" is in violation of the ABRA, and must be prosecuted.

      Good to know

  2. Layers upon layers. The linked decision is to a decision of the New Jersey Commissioner of Education reversing the decision of the Office of Administrative Law reversing the decision of the Board of Education of Boonton, i.e. upholding the original discipline. The student lost due to the standard of review: "When a local board of education acts within its discretionary authority, its decision is entitled to a presumption of correctness and will not be disturbed unless there is an affirmative showing that the decision was 'patently arbitrary, without rational basis or induced by improper motives.'" (page 2)

    1. While I don't know New Jersey law, or the laws of all states, that standard is pretty much the same in every state I do know about. The upshot here is that there was evidence going both ways and the Board's decision was not clearly wrong. The reviewing authorities can't reverse the decision merely because they think they would have taken a different view in the first instance.

      1. There are slightly different standards of review in different states and different types of cases. The quoted language from New Jersey seems to be harsher than in Massachusetts, which would allow typical agency adjudications to be overturned if not supported by "substantial evidence" or if the decision was "arbitrary or capricious, an abuse of discretion". Maybe the student would lose under that standard too. I'm not sure if it's applicable to challenges to school disciplinary hearings here. And if the student makes a free speech argument the court would have more latitude: the statute anticipates cases "where the court is constitutionally required to make independent findings of fact".

      2. While that is indeed the right standard, it seems to me that the linked decision makes clear that the decision was arbitrary, and that the ALJ's decision was correct. (That's setting aside the probably unconstitutionally vague and overboard definition of HIB, which nobody raised or addressed.) The board had no basis for concluding he was guilty.

        All of the people involved in the conversation denied that he had said it. And even if the girl who complained was a reliable witness — how could she be, when she didn't even see who said it? — how could the board have possibly made that determination since she never testified? (I'm not saying that the formal rules of evidence apply and that hearsay is therefore inadmissible; I'm saying that a non-arbitrary credibility determination requires something other than pure assumption.)

        Also: shades of Title IX abuses: the complainant is referred to not as a complainant, but as the "target." Even though she was indisputably not a target of anything.

  3. ABRA? Cadabra! You’re magically a bully.

  4. "...reversing a student's suspension..."

    Is it reversing the suspension, or reversing the reversal?

    1. Here, the respondent Board has failed to establish that J.J. even uttered the“n” word on the morning in question. I, therefore, CONCLUDE that any resulting HIB violation and/or code-of-conduct violation must be overturned.
      Given my findings of fact and conclusions of law, I ORDER that any finding of an HIB violation and any corresponding code-of-conduct
      violation are hereby OVERTURNED, and any allegations of an HIB violation against J.J. are dismissed

  5. The district acknowledges that the utterance, regardless of who said it, was not directed at the target. ... Yet, armed with this knowledge, the district decided to conduct an HIB investigation anyway

    Every single person involved in that decision should be fired.

    If you get "offended" because you overhear something that was not directed at you, or about you, that's your own problem, not the school's

    1. That's ridiculous. I can't see what this utterance was because EV has removed it, but hypothetically if someone walked around yelling outrageous epithets of course people would (and should) take offense regardless of whether they are aimed at them.

      1. The opinion is here. It is claimed that the student said "nigger" or "nigga". We don't know the context.

        1. Thanks. That's certainly the kind of epithet that people hearing it should take offense at, directed at them or not.

          1. It certainly depends on the context. Lots of people don't get offended by rap music, for example.

            And there's an additional question of whether you have been bullied just because you overheard something you find offensive.

            1. I was responding to the particular claim "If you get “offended” because you overhear something that was not directed at you, or about you, that’s your own problem, not the school’s." Offense at hearing that word, even in 'rap music' you've been unwillingly exposed to, is quite natural.

              1. No it isn't.

                So no where do we go? As a fine Aussie commedian once said: "You know what happens when you're offended? Nothing."

                1. It is as an empirical and historical matter. Sorry if you can't get that, some people are color blind and really struggle to think about how some people can't make distinctions they can.

              2. Cool. So you're saying if I decide I'm offended by anything said by rap music, I can use the State to punish anyone who plays it anywhere where I can hear it?

                Even if I go there just so I can hear it so i can be offended?

                1. Lol. There's kind of a historico-cultural history with this epithet.

                  So, if you decide you're offended by the word 'cross buns' we're not going to recognize that, but the n word? Yeah.

                  1. Well, what about 'Honkie' or 'Cracker' or 'Whitie'? Are they sufficiently offensive that they get 'recognized' (by who, anyway)?

                    Help us understand just how exactly you draw that line.

                    1. You honkies deserve it.

                      Same logic as "It's not racist if it's a Black saying it, whitie."

                  2. Why don't you answer the question instead of evading it?

        2. Thank you for the citation. It is obvious, this case consumed massive time, cost, and effort. It is over a word said by a teen.

          The lawyers, judges should be arrested since this is a case of fraudulent rent seeking. The arrests should include the scumbag lawyers that drafted the rule, and those that enacted it to further this bunco scheme.

          Failing arrests, these lawyers need to be be beaten with a stick because they are thieves.

      2. but hypothetically if someone walked around yelling outrageous epithets of course people would (and should) take offense regardless of whether they are aimed at them.

        Oh, cool!

        So every Christian should be able to bring charges against hte maker and funders of "Piss Christ"?

        So someone who deeply cares about the lives of the unborn can bring charges against anyone who shouts "outrageous epithets" like "my body, my choice" (translation: murder is good when I want to do it, which is pretty damn outrageous).

        Do you idiots every stop to think about how the rules you make are going to be used against you? Or does being on the left require you to be a sociopath, who thinks that only your side are real people, so no one on the other side will ever do to you what you've done to them?

        1. I like that you think 'my bodies my choice'=the n word.

          It says all that needs to be said.

          1. Greg is not a serious commentator here. Stop treating him as though he were. My "banned" list comprises only 2 people. But I expect that I'll add Greg at some point, since literally *nothing* he posts adds value.

            1. But I expect that I’ll add Greg at some point, since literally *nothing* he posts adds value.

              He's useful for learning what the latest talking points from OAN are without having to actually watch that hellspawned channel.

            2. Hey, speaking of unserious, where's Dr. Ed?

              1. He was put out to Dr. Pasture

        2. Greg, every Christian can take offense at "Piss Christ" if they choose to. I don't know how you get from there to "bring charges"

          1. The defense of the National Endowment for the Arts paying for it was that exposing Christians to such things was good for them.

            I agree with that.

            Fast forward 25 years. Feigned* outrage rules the day. The same side that said that about the above now denies it is a value anymore.

            An asteroid cannot smear humanity soon enough.

            * It even has an automated meme defense mechanism: How dare ye devalue or mock someone else's feelings.

            I hope the asteroid is travelling 3/4 the speed of light, so as to vaporize Earth and knock the sun out of kilter should there be life struggling on any other planet.

    2. I think we all know what would have happened if a group of black students were having a private conversation before the bell and one of them referred to a friend as 'niggah'. Nothing.

      Can the school board mete out justice based solely on the race of the offender even if the conduct was identical?

  6. The district acknowledges that the utterance, regardless of who said it, was not directed at the target."

    So why is she described as "the target" ?

    1. It happens so rarely that he has to go back and type "alleged" when he gets to the end and it isn't a witch that he forgot that he ought to?

  7. "So why is she described as “the target” ?"

    Well, you can't harass, intimidate, or bully someone without a target, can you?

  8. She didn't actually have to 'see' it if she could 'feel' it, right?

    1. Probably a prog. Feels are enough. "We don't need no stinkin' facts."

  9. I came here late, so I guess it's time for a game of "guess the facts and holding of the case from the clues in the comments threads".

    1. I mean, you could read the decision.

      1. EV removed the post (temp?), so he has to look in the comments to even find out what case was decided.

    2. What he thought was a good judge striking down an unsubstantiated allegation was in fact the good judge's goatee-wearing evil twin upholding the decision of the school board to discipline somebody who happened to be in the vicinity when a student thought she heard a Bad Word.

  10. Quick, post another article about how the Times has corrected itself!

    1. This blog has become quite predictable. The recurring subjects and familiar targets. The polemics. The increasing disaffectedness. The vile racial slurs. The authors of particular posts (signaled by headline, nearly without exception). The vitriol toward the occasional libertarian content. The comments. The censorship.

      Even the soundtrack.

      1. Not as predictibly Stupid as you, asshole.

    2. The Times claims, or at least used to claim, to have layers and layers of fact checkers and editors.

      We can only wish you had layers and layers of brain cells.

      1. They do... your point?

  11. I'm amazed that these comments keep going on without a post to comment on.

    I guess we can just entertain ourselves around here.

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