TRENTON, NJ (CBS) – According to acting Attorney General John Hoffman, the Board of Education in Franklin Township, Gloucester County will pay $75,000 to a student to resolve allegations that it failed to properly address race-related bullying aimed at her while she was in elementary school.
The African-American student was allegedly harassed from 2005-2009. The alleged bullying included race-based name calling and other bias-driven remarks from the time she was in third grade through sixth grade.
Along with the $75,000, the Franklin school board must allocate at least $2,500 to create an anti-bullying awareness program to be enforced during the 2014-2015 school year.
“This settlement represents a fair resolution to a disturbing matter,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “As we begin another school year, this case should serve as a reminder to school districts throughout the state that they have a duty to New Jersey’s children to create and maintain a bullying-free learning environment, and that they have a legal responsibility when confronted with reports that a student is being bullied to take affirmative steps ‘reasonably calculated’ to end the conduct.”
The student’s name is being withheld since she is still a minor.
The Franklin school district has denied that it engaged in the unlawful discrimination and it also denies the female was the victim of a hostile environment while at school. It says that the incidents of bullying and harassment were investigated and acted on appropriately by administrators. However, a Finding Probable Cause issued by the Division of Civil Rights in 2011 found the alleged harassment carried on over a four-year period despite complaints from the young girl’s parents to the principal and superintendent.
The Franklin school district agreed to review and revise its policy regarding harassment, intimidation and bullying to ensure compliance with the requirements in New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights.
The District must also make sure all school personnel who are responsible for investigating and handling harassment, intimidation and bullying complaints receive appropriate training.
Despite the fact all of the parties involved agreed to all terms, the Franklin settlement required a review hearing before a State Superior Court Judge because the Complainant is a minor. On September 3, the judge presided over the hearing and approved the settlement.
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