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3-9-12 Education Issues in the News - Unfunded Mandates Questions Continue
Courier Post - Bill adds time to claim child sexual abuse… The legislation also would require training programs, for school employees and others, on how to recognize and report signs of childhood sex abuse. In addition, more employees and some school volunteers would have to undergo criminal background checks every three years.

Press of Atlantic City - School districts say state's anti-bullying law costs at least $2 million to implement

Courier Post - Bill adds time to claim child sexual abuse The legislation also would require training programs, for school employees and others, on how to recognize and report signs of childhood sex abuse. In addition, more employees and some school volunteers would have to undergo criminal background checks every three years.

 Mar. 8, 2012 | Written by JIM WALSH Courier-Post Staff

 

TRENTON — A South Jersey legislator has introduced a bill that would allow more time for victims of child sex abuse to sue their assailants.

The measure, which would end a current two-year statute of limitation for such civil suits, is part of a three-bill package proposed by Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald, D-Voorhees.

The proposed legislation also would require more training for school employees and others to recognize and report the signs of child sexual abuse. Among other changes, it would toughen criminal penalties for child sexual abuse and would expand the category of people liable for “knowingly permitting or acquiescing” to the offense.

“When it comes to cracking down on the sexual abuse of children, it’s clear that a comprehensive approach is needed,” Greenwald said in a statement Thursday.

Due to the current statutory limit, “many victims of sexual abuse as a child face significant hurdles or find their (legal) claims entirely foreclosed,” Greenwald said.

Under the bill, a victim’s lawsuit against an alleged abuser “may be commenced at any time.”

Powerful forces of shame and secrecy can cause victims to stay silent for decades about childhood sex abuse, said Steve Rubino, a Margate attorney whose practice has focused on cases involving clergy offenders.

He noted abusers often are trusted, well-regarded figures who manipulate victims to protect themselves.

“If you’re told to keep it secret, then you know that something’s wrong,” said Rubino. “But if you speak out, you will be rejected and not believed by your parents, your friends and your teachers.”

He said victims often develop drug- and sex-related problems, as well as depression and other emotional ills, that reinforce the secrecy. Even victims with more stable lives can be reluctant to disclose childhood sex abuse.

“They think, ‘If I do this, my whole world could fall apart’,” Rubino said.

An attorney for the Diocese of Camden on Thursday invoked the statute of limitations in asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed in January by an Ohio man who alleged he was abused by a parish priest in Camden about 45 years ago. The man, Mark Bryson, claimed he had repressed all memories of the assaults until about two years ago.

The diocese’s lawyer, William DeSantis of Cherry Hill, argued that the legal deadline for any suit passed when Bryson was 20 years old, or two years after he became an adult. As a result, he asked the judge to dismiss Bryson’s “stale claims.”

Among other changes, Greenwald’s bills would increase criminal fines for persons convicted of sex offenses under Megan’s Law and would boost the minimum prison terms for repeat offenders from five to eight years.

The legislation also would require training programs, for school employees and others, on how to recognize and report signs of childhood sex abuse. In addition, more employees and some school volunteers would have to undergo criminal background checks every three years.

Reach Jim Walsh at (856) 486-2646

 

Press of Atlantic City - School districts say state's anti-bullying law costs at least $2 million to implement

Posted: Friday, March 9, 2012 12:30 am | Updated: 6:45 am, Fri Mar 9, 2012. By DIANE D’AMICO Education WriterpressofAtlanticCity.com 0 comments

More than 200 school districts in the state are spending more than $2 million this year to implement the state’s new anti-bullying law, according to survey results released Thursday by the New Jersey School Boards Association.

That’s twice what the state Legislature and Gov. Chris Christie agreed Wednesday to put into a state Bullying Prevention Fund, and raises questions about whether, even with the new money, the law might still be considered unconstitutional under the State Mandate/State Pay provision.

Survey respondents also said implementing the law without spending even more money has meant taking staff away from other duties.

“There has been a ripple effect on other services,” said Frank Belluscio, spokesman for the School Boards Association.

Counseling has been the area most affected, since counselors were most likely to have been the ones assigned to investigate reports of bullying.

Respondents were evenly split on whether the law has had a positive effect on school climate and reduced bullying.

The survey was done in February as a joint project by the state school boards, school administrators and school business officials associations. The law was declared unconstitutional in late January by the state Council on Local Mandates because it provided no funding to cover the cost of implementation.

John Sweeney, chairman of the council, said Wednesday that if the amended bill is passed, it will be up to school districts to decide whether the $1 million is enough. The original complaint was filed with the council by the Allamuchy school district in Warren County.

Statewide, about a third of the state’s public school districts responded to two surveys on costs and the impact of the law.

According to the results, nine out of 10 respondents said the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights had created additional costs, primarily for training and materials that made up about half of the $2 million cost.

About a third of the respondents said they had additional personnel costs, which made up another $1 million in costs. Results varied widely by district, with some reporting costs in the hundreds of dollars and others reporting tens of thousands of dollars primarily to cover stipends for extra work.

 

 


Garden State Coalition of Schools
160 W. State Street, Trenton New Jersey 08608
609-394-2828



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