Mt. Laurel School District releases latest harassment, intimidation and bullying statistics

Officials report only one confirmed instance of harassment, intimidation or bullying between students from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.

The Mt. Laurel Township School District had only one confirmed instance of harassment, intimidation or bullying between students from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, according to Superintendent George Rafferty.

Rafferty reported those results at the latest meeting of the Mt. Laurel Board of Education. State anti-bullying legislation requires districts to report harassment, intimidation and bullying statistics at meetings twice per year.

According to Rafferty, from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31, the district investigated 11 incidents of potential harassment, intimidation and bullying, but only one was a confirmed case.

“Not that those other instances were not important or serious, they were investigated. They just did not meet the criteria,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty credited the district and its staff for doing a “tremendous” job creating a positive climate for Mt. Laurel’s schools.

Rafferty also described it as “remarkable” for the district having only one confirmed instance of harassment, intimidation and bullying in a district with slightly more than 4,200 students.

“I think the results of this report speak for themselves,” Rafferty said.

During the meeting, Rafferty also reported on the instances of violence, vandalism, substance abuse or weapons offenses in the district from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.

According to Rafferty, there were three instances of violence, three substance offenses, two weapon offenses and zero instances of vandalism.

Rafferty noted the recent popularity of vaping devices among teenagers and the potential for students to bring prescription medications to school that are not prescribed for them.

“We’re seeing more students getting their hands on these kind of things, and unfortunately they bring them to school sometimes, and we’re required to report them,” Rafferty said.

When reviewing the weapons offenses, Rafferty said there was an instance of a student bringing a small can of aerosol self defense spray to school, as well as a student who brought a barbeque lighter to school, which still required the district to record the incident in its report.

“I think it’s important to report this out in terms of giving background … so people don’t get the wrong idea when we say we’ve had some offenses in our schools that fall under substances or weapons,” Rafferty said.

Rafferty praised the diligence of staff to address such incidents quickly, and he said it was rare for the district to have repeat offenses among students.

The report Rafferty reviewed at the meeting is available on the Mt. Laurel School District’s website at www.mtlaurelschools.org.