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NJ Interagency Report Recommends Legislation & Bias Training in Schools

New Jersey continues to strengthen its reputation as one of the most progressive States in the nation with regard to civil rights. Recently, an Interagency Task Force to Combat Youth Bias (“Task Force”) was formed in response to a recent incident bias report indicating that children and young adults accounted for 53% of the known offenders involved in bias incidents and 45% of the victims. Individuals from the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, the New Jersey State Police, the Division of Criminal Justice, and the Juvenile Justice Commission participated in the Task Force.

The Task Force’s objectives included: studying the many factors contributing to widespread bias among the youth; surveying existing New Jersey laws and programs against bias and exposing their shortcomings; and making recommendations to the State to improve bias among the State’s youth.

As part of the study, among other things, the Task Force evaluated and analyzed: (1) the root cause of hate, bias, and intolerance in New Jersey’s schools and universities and among New Jersey’s students and young adults; (2) existing State laws, regulations, and procedures related to bias in schools and among New Jersey youth; (3) programs and strategies administered by Executive Departments and County Prosecutors to address hate, bias, and intolerance in schools and among New Jersey youth; and (4) other programs, curricula, and strategies to combat youth bias, hate, and intolerance among students and young adults in New Jersey schools.

Following a comprehensive study of these issues, on October 9, 2020, the Task Force issued a report entitled “An Anti-Bias Vision for the Next Generation” detailing 27 recommendations to the State of New Jersey to combat bias (the “Report”). The Report highlights the following two (2) recommendations as the most critical, through legislation:

1. Requiring comprehensive anti-bias education for students in public schools, and developing curricula support materials through the Department of Education; and

2. Mandating comprehensive anti-bias education including training on implicit bias, institutional bias, and structural bias for all K-12 public educators and school employees, school board members, administrators, school resource officers, para-professionals, guidance counselors, nurses, athletic directors, and all other adults within the school building who interact with students.

The Report highlights that effective anti-bias training is essential because it will equip educators with the tools necessary to recognize and address their own implicit bias, regardless of their intentions, as well as the implicit bias of others. Such training will also permit educators to identify bias-based bullying among students who may be hesitant to or unable to report it.

**KSBranigan Law P.C. offers educational training programs focused on implicit/unconscious bias and cultural awareness; preventing discrimination, harassment, retaliation and encouraging civility and bystander intervention. For more information, contact KSBranigan Law, P.C. Virtual training formats are now available.

For more information on all training programs please, click here.

For more information on initiatives by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, click here.

This summary is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute legal advice. This information should not be reused without permission.