Two New Jersey school districts, who are being sued for their failure to halt bullying against the plaintiff student, were successful in their efforts to have the parents of the student bullies contribute to any award that may be issued against the school districts.
The original lawsuit was filed against the two school districts by the plaintiff student, seeking to hold the districts liable under New Jersey’s Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act. The parents of the student allege that their child was bullied by almost a dozen students between fourth grade and high school, and that the defendant school districts were negligent in their response to this bullying.
The school districts filed claims against the parents of the alleged bullies under New Jersey’s Joint Tortfeasors Contribution Law, arguing that if the districts are found liable to the plaintiff, the parents of the bullies must share that liability. The school districts stated that the parents were made aware of the conduct of their children and failed to act to stop it.
A Superior Court granted the school districts’ claim for contribution, writing that “both acts of negligence [the school districts and the parents] were required here for plaintiff to suffer harm.” If found liable under the Anti-Bullying Act, it will be interesting to see if the school districts will be successful in their claim that parents of the student bullies are responsible for their child’s actions while in school.