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New Jersey Anti-Bullying Law May Not Pass Before End Of Legislative Session, Mother Warns

Dianne Grossman is afraid that Mallory’s Law, named after her 12-year-old daughter who died by suicide, will be overlooked by legislators who do not agree with some elements of the bill.

A New Jersey mother whose 12-year-old daughter died by suicide due to bullying at school is afraid that a bill named in her daughter’s honor will not pass the state legislature before the session ends in early 2020.

Dianne Grossman has spent the past two years pushing the New Jersey State Assembly to strengthen anti-bullying laws in honor of her daughter Mallory, who died in 2017. Her chosen bill, Mallory’s Law, unanimously passed the state senate in June but has not been voted on in the Assembly.

“We had hoped that Mallory's Law would get passed during this lame duck session,” Grossman told The Morristown Daily Record. “We thought it was a nice opportunity for us to get it in, get it heard and get it passed.”

The cosponsors of the bill in the senate fear it may die in January if it is not heard in the coming weeks. The legislation calls for county superintendents to oversee bullying investigations in school districts and allow school resource officers to be involved with the investigations from the beginning.

In addition, Mallory’s Law would create a path for parents to report an incident and start an investigation, creating a paper trail and potentially demonstrating patterns of behavior from students.

Grossman said that the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA) was a fan of the online “ticket” option for parents to report incidents. But she fears that the organization could be lobbying against the bill, especially since the group opposed some parent notification elements of the bill.

The NJPSA did not want to notify parents at any time before the investigation was concluded, and only then if something was discovered about student bullying, according to Grossman. The group did not provide comment on the issue to the Daily Record.

“How are parents supposed to be responsible? How are they supposed to parent their children if you are not notifying them of the things that are going on?” Grossman said, referring to parents whose children are being investigated for bullying behavior. “If you are investigating my child for behavior problems at school, shouldn’t I be notified?"

Grossman voiced her fears that she would have to start all over again with advocacy efforts for the legislation, which not be as effective the second time around.

But Sen. Jon Pennacchio, a sponsor of the bill, said he is “cautiously optimistic” that Mallory’s Law will be passed before the end of the lame duck session after certain amendments are approved by members of the Assembly. The bill needs to be heard during an education committee hearing, which will meet on Jan. 6 and 9.

“If it gets a full assembly vote then it will come back to the Senate for concurrence, and I am cautiously optimistic that I can get it passed again,” Pennacchio said.

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