School employee appointed anti-bullying coordinator

BY ANDREW MARTINS
Staff Writer

JACKSON — The Jackson School District Board of Education has appointed a group of employees to serve as anti-bullying specialists, signifying a more proactive response that will be taken when reports of bullying reach school officials.

Anti-bullying efforts in school districts throughout New Jersey have seen an increased amount of attention lately as administrators have started to comply with a bill that was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in January.

School board members also adopted a revised harassment, intimidation and bullying policy to bring Jackson into compliance with the new state law.

Christopher Weidman was appointed as the school district’s anti-bullying coordinator.

Eight employees were named anti-bullying specialists at individual schools. The anti-bullying specialists will be in charge of investigating bullying incidents as they occur.

The anti-bullying specialists are Eileen Keegan at Jackson Liberty High School; Maryann Stenta at Jackson Memorial High School; Staci Kajewski at Goetz Middle School; Jamie Boccia at McAuliffe Middle School; Pat Herold at Crawford-Rodriguez; Marge Kemerle at Elms; Maryann Garbooshian at Holman; and Paul Hrebik at Johnson and Rosenauer.

Abullying incident as defined by the law is described as an “insulting or demeaning” event, creating a “hostile education environment.”

The law includes incidents of bullying that occur in cyberspace (i.e., on a social networking website, via email or in text messages) and incidents that occur after school hours and off school grounds.

Incidents affecting the school environment must be investigated as soon as administrators are made aware of a situation.

Anyone affiliated with the schools who has contact with students involved in an incident must file a report to the school principal within two days.

By law, Weidman will then have 10 school days to complete a thorough investigation of the incident.

Twice a year, school district administrators will report to the public about incidents of hazing, intimidation and bullying. School administrators are already required to hold one public meeting each year at which they present a report about the number of acts of violence and vandalism in the district.

— Contact Andrew Martins at amartins@gmnews.com