Mallory’s Law: Amendments to New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights
Although New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights (the Act) is regarded as one of the strongest in the nation, the New Jersey Legislature recently passed, and the Governor signed, S1790 which contains some significant amendments, to further deter cyber-bullying and tighten in-district procedural safeguards. The parents of Mallory Rose Grossman advocated for these amendments, otherwise known as “Mallory’s Law.” Mallory was a 12-year-old Rockaway student, who committed suicide; Mallory’s parents believe that Mallory’s suicide was caused by relentless bullying.
Currently, the Act, requires that, once witnessed by a school employee/contract service provider, all acts of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) must be reported to the school principal within two school days. HIB acts reported by a reliable source of information are also to be provided to the principal. Once the principal receives the information, Mallory’s Law requires the principal to create a written report on a numbered form to be developed by the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE). The principal must immediately submit the completed form to the superintendent and the board. Mallory’s Law provides that the principal must complete the form, even if his/her preliminary determination is that the incident is not HIB under district policy and the Act. Mallory’s Law also provides that districts must give parents/guardians the ability to report HIB by making an on-line form available to them for this purpose.
Mallory’s Law also requires school districts to amend their HIB policies to provide for specific consequences for a student who has committed HIB. Specifically, if a student commits HIB for the first or even second time, the district must place a copy of the HIB-investigation results in the student’s record. The district may also impose remedial actions upon the student; districts can require students participate in counseling, receive behavioral intervention services, and/or be disciplined. The principal will determine appropriate remedial measures in consultation with appropriate school staff.
If a student commits HIB three or more times, the HIB investigation results must be placed in the student’s record, and the principal and appropriate school staff must develop an individual student intervention plan that is approved by the superintendent. The intervention plan may include remedial measures and may also require a student, together with a parent or guardian, to complete a class or training program designed to reduce HIB behavior. Mallory’s Law also requires the superintendent (or his/her designee) and the principal to consult law enforcement, as appropriate, under the Uniform State Memorandum of Agreement Between Education and Law Enforcement Officials, if a student has possibly violated the New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice.
The Act has also been amended to require superintendents to include in their Violence, Vandalism and HIB reporting to their boards, the number of preliminary HIB reports that the district determined did not meet the Act’s HIB requirements, under the district’s preliminary determination process.
Significantly, Mallory’s Law also raised the monetary penalties that a criminal court can impose when a minor has been adjudicated delinquent for cyber-bullying under N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1. The statute provides that a person commits the crime of cyber-harassment if, while communicating on-line the person (a) threatens to inflict injury or physical harm to any person or property of the person; (b) knowingly sends posts, comments, requests, suggests or proposes lewd, indecent or obscene material about a person with the intent to emotionally harm a reasonable person, or place a person in reasonable fear of physical or emotional harm to his/her person; or (c) threatens to commit any crime against the person or property. If a minor, under 16, is adjudicated delinquent for cyber-harassment, the court can order, as part of the sentence, that the minor be accompanied by a parent/guardian to attend and complete one or both of the following: (1) a class or training program designed to reduce the minor’s propensity to engage in cyber-harassment; and/or (2) a class or training program designed to raise the minor’s awareness of the dangers caused by cyber-harassment. Mallory’s Law increases possible penalties that can be imposed on parents/guardians for failing to comply the training requirement from $25.00 to $100.00 for a first offense, and $100 to $500.00 for a second or subsequent offense. Mallory’s Law also provides that a parent/guardian having legal custody of a minor who demonstrates willful or wanton disregard in the exercise of supervision and control of a minor who has been convicted of cyber-harassment, may also be held liable in a civil action.
Mallory’s Law also created the NJDOE position of School Climate State Coordinator. The School Climate Coordinator is required to:
- Identify and disseminate research and resources to promote best practices for student social-emotional learning and the development of a positive, supportive school climate;
- Provide information about the policies and procedures of the Act and other State and federal laws governing HIB;
- Review and report data collected on HIB to identify and report patterns of HIB in public schools to NJDOE;
- Assist NJDOE in creating public information programs to educate parents, educators, and the public about the duties of the State Coordinator, HIB, and the resources available to address HIB.
- Work collaboratively with law enforcement, the NJDOE, the Division of Civil Rights, and the Department of Health to develop a training program on the impact of HIB and the public schools.
- Work collaboratively with law enforcement to develop resources and training for law enforcement about the impact of HIB on students and schools and the appropriate role of law enforcement in this regard.
- Report annually to the Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education, and the Legislature, on the State coordinator’s activities and make specific recommendations for best practices and procedures.
School administrators should review their district’s HIB policies to ensure that their districts’ HIB policy complies with Mallory’s Law. Districts must also be certain that staff and contract providers have been updated on all the new requirements. When revising board policy for adoption by the board, it is always best to consult the board attorney.
 N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13.2, et seq.
 N.J.S.A. 18A:37-13.2, et seq.
 P.L. 2021 c.338 amending N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15b.(5).
 P.L. 2021 c.338 amending N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15b.(4).
 P.L. 2021 c.338, amending N.J.S.A. 18A:17-46.1.
 P.L. 2021c. 338, amending N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4.1. c. and d.
 P.L. 2021c.338, amending N.J.S.A. 18A:37-15 ( adding new sections 5-10).