1-27-12 Breaking News: Council on Local Mandates Issues Anti-Bullying Decision this afternoon - an unfunded mandate
GSCS Notes (GSCS was present at the hearing at the Statehouse Annex today): The Council on Local Mandates at its hearing in Trenton today determined by a 7-2 vote that Anti-Bullying legislation as presently constituted is an unfunded mandate…Council Chairman John Sweeney stated that the law “should be fixed but that’s the job of the legislature and the Governor."

Council members noted that the Allamuchy School District's unfunded mandate complaint, was supported by other districts such as Ridgewood, Marlboro, Rivervale and Demarest via resolutions submitted to the Council.

The order is to become effective when the Council’s written decision is issued…probably within 60 days or so.

The Council’s stated hope is that legislature will figure out way to fund this mandate, so that the “law and its intent not lost at all.” Council does support anti-bullying legislation and…”the state should put its money where its mouth is.”

The Record - Anti-bullying law imposes unfunded mandate on N.J. school districts, state body rules

Nj.com-Star Ledger - N.J. will need money to fund new anti-bullying law, council rules

GSCS Notes (GSCS was present  at the hearing at the Statehouse Annex today): The Council on Local Mandates at its hearing in Trenton today determined by a 7-2 vote  that Anti-Bullying legislation as presently constituted is an unfunded mandate…Council Chairman John Sweeney stated that the law “should be fixed but that’s the job of the legislature and the Governor.

Council members noted that, in addition to the Allamuchy School District which spearheaded the unfunded mandate complaint, other districts such as Ridgewood, Marlboro, Rivervale and Demarest also supported Allamuchy’s effort via resolutions submitted to the Council.

 The order is to become effective when the Council’s written decision is issued…probably w/in 60 days or so. The Council’s stated hope is that legislature will figure out way to fund this mandate, so that the “law and its intent not lost at all.”  Council does support anti-bullying legislation and…”the state should put its money where its mouth is.”

The Record  - Anti-bullying law imposes unfunded mandate on N.J. school districts, state body rules

Friday January 27, 2012, 2:46 PM  BY LESLIE BRODY STAFF WRITER The Record

The Council on Local Mandates decided Friday that the state’s new anti-bullying law is an unfunded mandate, and the Legislature must come up with money to fund its provisions if lawmakers want it to remain in effect.

The council’s ruling means that if the Legislature does not come up with the money by the time the council’s formal decision is issued – likely within 60 days – the law will expire, the council’s chairman, John Sweeney, said.

Officials from the small, rural Allamuchy district, which educates 440 students, argued that the anti-bullying law was an unfunded mandate, and sought $20,000 to cover the costs of compliance, including staff time for extra paperwork, training and counseling for victims.

Attorneys from the state Education Department and the New Jersey Bar Association countered in the three-hour hearing that the law did not impose new expenses, and simply created a clearer process for implementing a 2002 law to prevent bullying.

The Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights was approved a year ago and went into effect Sept. 1. It has been hailed as one of the toughest anti-bullying laws in the country, but it also has sparked complaints from districts who say its demands for documentation and investigation deadlines are onerous drains on staff, and take time away from schools’ core mission of instruction.

Ridgewood, River Vale and Demarest are among several districts that approved resolutions in support of Allamuchy.

Officials from Allamuchy stressed they did not object to the intent of the law, but wanted money to implement its demands.

The Council on Local Mandates has the authority to rule that a state law, rule, or regulation imposes an unconstitutional “unfunded mandate” on school boards, counties or municipalities. Under the state Constitution, if the council determines a law imposes an unfunded mandate, the law, rule or regulation ceases to be mandatory and expires.

Email: brody@northjersey.com

Nj.com-Star Ledger - N.J. will need money to fund new anti-bullying law, council rules

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012, 2:50 PM Updated: Friday, January 27, 2012, 2:57 PM

By Jeanette Rundquist/The Star-LedgerThe Star-Ledger

TRENTON — The state will have to come up with money so school districts can pay for costs associated with New Jersey's new anti-bullying law, a state body in Trenton ruled today .

In a 7-2 ruling, the Council on Local Mandates said the new law is an unfunded mandate in that it requires school districts to provide training and personnel associated with its implementation. The council's ruling will take affect in about 60 days, once its formal order is released.

"We have determined the legislation ... constitutes an unfunded mandate." Sweeney said. "It should be fixed, but that's the job of the Legislature," said council Chairman John Sweeney, a retired Superior Court judge. Sweeney said today's decision came after a "spirited debate."

In its ruling, the council said it supported the intent of the legislation but that there should be funding to help districts enforce it.

The decision arose from a complaint filed with the council by the Allamuchy School District in Warren County, which argued the anti-bullying law creates extra costs for districts but does not provide funding to pay for them.

The Allamuchy district, which has 427 students, said the law would cost it $6,000 this year alone for training, plus more in the future. The law requires districts to create new job titles, such as anti-bullying coordinator, which Allamuchy says will be costly and difficult to do with its small staff.

The state Department of Education has said the law is not an unfunded mandate. In a brief it filed with the council, argued the measure is a revision of an earlier law and that districts can meet their requirements without additional costs.

The Council on Local Mandates rules on whether state laws or regulations impose unconstitutional "unfunded mandates" on school districts or local governments. In the past decade, it has issued about a dozen decisions, including one in 2007 pertaining to special education class-age groupings that saved school districts about $800,000 a year .

New Jersey implemented the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, considered the toughest such law in the country, in September. It was spurred, in part, by the suicide in 2010 of a Rutgers University freshman whose roommate allegedly spied on him with a webcam during an intimate encounter with another man.

Though supportive of the law, many districts have complained that provisions in it are costly and time-consuming.