By: Amanda Sundquist
In a unique ruling, a New Jersey Superior Court Judge has permitted two school districts to add eleven students and their parents as third party defendants in a bullying and harassment case against the school districts. The students are alleged to have bullied the student plaintiff and their parents are alleged to have allowed the bullying behavior to continue.
New Jersey’s law differs significantly from Pennsylvania’s, but this decision raises an interesting question in all jurisdictions regarding the scope of potential liability for alleged bullies and their parents, as well as, opportunities for school districts to share potential liability in such a claim. However, it is always the best practice for school districts to promptly respond to any bullying or harassment allegations to avoid such allegations evolving into a potential legal claim. School districts should regularly review their bullying and harassment policies to make sure they are up to date and are effective when applied to day-to-day situations in the school building.
More significantly, they should make sure their employees and their students are educated on these policies and understand how to address alleged bullying and harassment incidents under the policy. For assistance with your district’s bullying or harassment policies or for help with employee training on bullying and harassment responses, contact me in our West Chester office.