As unfunded mandate, N.J. anti-bullying law in jeopardy

New Jersey will need to provide some money to save the state’s revised anti-bullying law.

In a ruling that cannot be appealed, the state Council on Local Mandates determined the law is an unconstitutional unfunded mandate on school districts.

The decision came in response to a complaint filed by the Allamuchy School District in Warren County.

School board president Francis Gavin argued the state would not provide reimbursement for thousands of dollars in costs to implement the law.

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“In the grand scheme of things, is that a lot of money?” Gavin said. “Well maybe not to a large district, but to a small district like ours where we now have the restrictions that are placed upon us by a fiscal perspective, frankly, every penny counts.”

The council’s ruling won’t take effect for about 60 days.

Sharon Weiner, a member of the Council on Local Mandates who did not agree with the majority, said she hopes the Legislature will act to provide funding.

“We’re hoping to preserve the overall law. We’re hoping that within the time period before our decision becomes final, that the law can be remedied. We do not want the law to go away,” she said. “It’s too important.”

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