A New Jersey school district will pay $75,000 to settle a claim it turned a blind eye to student bullying.
School officials dealt with the harassment by moderately punishing twelve students with verbal warnings, detention and in-school suspensions. However, it was noted that the victim's mother had identified fifty students who had allegedly participated.
The settlement is to be split between the student, known as H.D. for anonymity reasons, and the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (DCR).
The student was subjected to bullying based on his religion and adjudged sexual orientation while attending Jonas Salk Middle School and Old Bridge High School during the period 2004 to 2007.
As well as occurring at school, H.D.'s harassment continued on the school bus and online and involved name-calling, derogatory comments and physical contact. In one instance, H.D. was accosted in the locker room and had papers stuffed down his pants.
The Old Bridge District is also required to implement harassment awareness, training and complaint policies. DCR Director Craig Sashihara says the requirement is intended to act as a deterrent to other would-be bullies.
As the case occurred prior to the enactment of the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act of 2011, it was not subject to the same oversight afforded by the current law.
Under the terms of current legislation, bullying claims are required to be investigated without delay, and followed up with a written report to the superintendent and school board, whether bullying was found to have occurred or not.
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