Haddonfield’s new school district anti-bullying coordinator Rob Fox gave a presentation at the Aug. 24 board of education meeting regarding the biannual superintendent report on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) during the period from Jan. 1 through June 30.
Fox began with an overview of what happens when an HIB allegation has been made. It is reported to the school principal, who assesses the issue along with a counselor and case manager, he explained.
After that, an initial assessment is done by the principal and antibullying specialists and the allegation is reported on MYK12, a platform used to report violations. A 338 state form is then filled out and uploaded to the Report Locker and the decision to proceed with the investigation is completed.
“The goal is to complete the initial assessment within one school day,” Fox said. “If it’s in the morning and it’s reported, we would hopefully get through that top part by early afternoon. At that point, it will either be determined that it does not meet the definition of HIB and the case is closed and supports are put in place as needed.”
If there is more remediation necessary, he added, the student code of conduct will still be followed and parents and guardians will be alerted, depending on the situation.
If an HIB investigation involves a bias-related act, school Superintendent Chuck Klaus would have to report it to law enforcement under current state guidelines. If it does meet the HIB definition, a further investigation will be done by an anti-bullying specialist within 10 days. Parents and guardians of both parties will be notified by the principal via a phone call.
After the investigation, the anti-bullying specialist will make a decision and the report is submitted to the superintendent within two school days of the investigation’s completion. The principal makes phone calls to the involved parties and the specialist sends the determination letter to them as well.
The superintendent reports the result of the investigation to the board of education at one of its meetings and parents and guardians receive a letter of determination from the board within five days of the session. Parents can either accept the findings or challenge them. A flow chart was posted to the district website and can be seen at https://haddonfieldschools.org/haddonfield-hib.
Fox and the board also emphasized distinguished that there is a difference between a situation deemed an HIB violation and bullying in the narrow sense.
“Children experience bullying, but it doesn’t turn out to be a HIB violation, and parents feel very hurt, like you’re not protecting my child,” acknowledged board member Heather Paoli. “We all know that appropriate actions are taken by administrators and teachers to teach children. It doesn’t mean something bad didn’t happen, it just didn’t meet the definition of HIB.”
“(The state definition of HIB) doesn’t translate to everyday language,” agreed Board President Jaime Grookett, who also announced the anti-bullying specialists who will be at each school in the upcoming year, including himself for the overall district. Brielle Alexander will be at Central Elementary, Diane Wallace at Haddon Elementary, Mary Hall at Tatem Elementary, Emme Probst for middle school and Rachel Gould for Haddonfield Memorial High School.
The specialists will meet every six weeks, more than the required twice a year, to go over trends and case studies and reflect on strengths and areas for improvement.
In an effort to be more consistent with training, Grookett also announced a three-year cycle for anti-bullying specialists to complete 20 hours of training the first year, for certification through Legal One and for conducting effective investigations. There will be five hours of training the second year to understand anti-bullying in schools and address HIB claims and discipline for students with disabilities, and 25 hours the third year to gain an Antibullying Professional Advanced Certificate of Mastery.
During the presentation on this year’s HIB cases, Fox reported that there were 27 reports of HIB across the district. Of those, 13 were not investigated, six were confirmed to be HIB and eight were not. The highest number reported was 10 at the middle school, six at Haddon Elementary and five at the high school.
Of the cases that passed initial assessment, it was found there were two HIB cases involving race, two involving ethnicity, two disability related and one gender related. Fox also offered an overview of HIB reports in the past six years at each school and the district as a whole.
“We’re at around 32 in ’17-’18, big dropoff from COVID, slight increase, slight increase, way below ’17-’18 and slightly above our ’18-’19 year,” he pointed out, “so we’re pretty much on par with where we were pre-pandemic.”
Fox also noted that the district uses discipline and remediation based on the student code of conduct, including student warnings, removal from the classroom, detention, sensitivity training, counseling and parent conferences.
The full list can be seen in the presentation on for the board meeting on the district YouTube channel. The board also introduced a school threat assessment-team policy on first reading at the meeting.
The next board of education session will be on Thursday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m.