In the first half of the school year, the Millburn School District reports, there were 21 confirmed cases of bullying in the schools.
As part of the anti-bullying law aimed at reducing harassment, intimidation and bullying in the schools, Millburn presented its first of two required reports on bullying incidents earlier this week.
The report, presented to the Board of Education by Superintendent Dr. James Crisfield on Monday, states there were 129 reported possible incidents of bullying but only 21 were found to be harassment, intimidation or bullying.
Of the 129 cases reported and investigated, 39 were at Millburn Middle School, 22 at South Mountain, 19 each at the high school and Hartshorn, 11 at Deerfield, 10 at Wyoming and nine at Glenwood.
Of the 21 cases that fell within HIB law, nine were at the middle school, 11 were at the high school and one was at Glenwood. None of the cases at the other schools were found to be HIB in nature, according to the report.
At the middle school, three students were given out-of-school suspensions for bullying and in other cases, parents were contacted and warnings were issued. In one case, the school contacted police. In another case, bus privileges were suspended, and in a couple of cases an apology was and a behavior plan was developed, according to the report.
At the high school, several students lost off-campus lunch privileges, parents were notified, an official warning was issued in one case and a student had to apologize in another.
At a school board meeting several weeks ago, a mother of a high school student said her daughter had been harassed and bullied but though it was reported, nothing much was done and she felt that the students involved did not learn anything from the process.
“There’s a lot that is swept under the rug,” she said, making the suggestion that the student leaders in the school – in sports, academics and clubs go through sensitivity training, an idea that some school board members agreed would be a good idea.
Meanwhile, the HIB law was recently put into limbo because the state Council on Mandates deemed it unconstitutional, saying it amounts to unfunded mandate, creating extra costs for districts with no money to pay for it.
Indeed, Millburn has hired a anti-bullying officer and instituted training and a variety of programs for teachers, staff, students and parents. Since the legistlature has 60 days in which to come up with funds for the implementation of the bill or fixes in it, the school district won't change course yet, Crisfield said.