HomeMullica Hill NewsHarrison BOE holds bi-annual hearing for report of student conduct

Harrison BOE holds bi-annual hearing for report of student conduct

The board and superintendent discussed the report as it relates to the second half of the school year and how the district handles the cases.

Darkness prevailed as the Harrison Township Board of Education held its latest meeting following a power outage to discuss findings of violence, vandalism and Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying.

The report covered all HIB cases, both substantiated and unsubstantiated, and reports of violence and vandalism from Jan. 3 until June 30.

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Whenever there’s a report and a full investigation that’s done, the board is notified monthly,” said Superintendent Missy Peretti. “The purpose is to take the data in one lump and report on it as a whole instead of breaking it down month by month. With our district, we have HTES and PVS.

The district had six HIB cases as a whole, three in each school. One “met the criteria” for being a violation of the policy at Harrison Township Elementary. Pleasant Valley’s investigations were cleared.

Peretti added, with the one violation, a student was targeted due to a peer having a perceived difference in the levels of intelligence between the two. She added the discipline that followed was a suspension for the offender, a change in classrooms, as well as counseling and monitoring of progress for both the offender and victim.

None of the closed investigations were appealed.

While the numbers of the confirmed incidents of violence, vandalism, substance abuse or weapons were not made public, Peretti said hearing about them can be alarming in an elementary school setting. However, they can be simple things such as fights or assaults against peers or adults, bringing an Exact-O knife out of an art classroom, etc.

In any of the instances that occur in either building, all cases are followed with individual student plans or the code conduct in response to the issue,” she said. 

The numbers provided for HIB reports, however, are around the average of what the district sees year to year (five to 10 cases).

It’s difficult to say how it trends for us because the law says anyone who has made any contact on our property with the students to be reported,” Peretti clarified. “It allows for someone to make a potential HIB violation if they’re a visitor to the grounds and they overhear something. Any parents, staff, bus driver or administration who has contact with the kids can make a HIB report. Sometimes they can occur off our property.”

She, however, pointed to the district’s positive behavioral support program that was implemented in 2009 and is being used in and outside of classrooms.

During the public hearing, a parent who did not identify himself asked if parents are notified of the investigations. Peretti said yes.

We immediately inform them that their child is involved in an investigation as either a victim or offender, and we relay information on to them along the way,” she said. She also sends letters home to both parties notifying them of their rights if they wish to appeal decisions.

She added parents are often asked to sit in during interviews on the reports due to the nature of questions asked, and they’re given an opportunity to receive a redacted version of the HIB report. Full reports are only available to HIB investigators due to privacy reasons.

In other news:

  • The board approved an expansion of its math enrichment program to include language arts literacy for fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade students. Students admitted to the program will be clustered according to availabilities in their schedules. So far, there are 20 students in each of the grades who qualify. Qualifications are listed on the district’s website at www.HarrisonTwp.K12.NJ.US.
  • A long-term substitute was approved to fill employee leaves throughout the school year. Peretti clarified that the substitute is not an additional position, and that they’re used for medical leaves.

The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Aug. 19, beginning at 7 p.m. at Pleasant Valley School.


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