At its April 5 monthly meeting, the State Board of Education discussed proposed new regulations for the state’s school monitoring system, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC).

The changes would allow the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) to reduce the number of overall indicators, and eliminate redundancy. NJDOE also hopes to reduce the time and resources needed to prepare for a NJQSAC monitoring visit, allowing more time to focus on instructional needs of the district. The goal is to focus NJDOE’s role more on support rather than compliance.

NJDOE proposes to maintain for the 2017-2018 school year, with no changes, three sections of the review: Appendix A (District Performance Review); Appendix B (District Performance Review for County Special Services School Districts), and Appendix C (Statement of Assurance). It then proposes to repeal those appendices, effective July 1, 2018, and replace them with new appendices. The proposed district performance reviews will align NJQSAC with the state’s plan under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). NJDOE expects to adopt these amendments in November 2017 and make them effective for September 2018, giving districts time to transition to the amended requirements. Details on the proposal are available here.

The State Board meeting also featured a general presentation about the various accountability systems that school districts must use. This includes ESSA, which concerns school accountability, and NJQSAC, as well as other state mechanisms of accountability, such as school performance reports, which were released the day before the state board meeting.

Programs to Support Student DevelopmentOriginally proposed in April 2016, the NJDOE is proposing further changes to its HIB regulations. These substantive changes require an additional 60-day comment period. The new adoption date for these regulations is now September 2017. Among the changes that the department is now proposing: requiring school district officials to take into account the circumstances of the HIB incident when providing notification to parents and guardians of all students involved in the reported incident and when conveying the nature of the incident, including the actual or perceived protected category motivating the alleged offense, in order to protect the privacy of the victim. Also in the proposed changes is a process by which the principal can make an initial determination as to whether an incident, assuming all facts are true, qualifies as HIB, or can be handled through the district’s regular disciplinary procedures; increasing the time for the parent to request a hearing from 45 to 60 days; requiring approved private schools for students with disabilities (PSSD) to have HIB policies to report to the appropriate district board of education personnel any complaint occurring on district school buses, at district board of education school-sponsored functions, and off school grounds involving a student who attends an approved PSSD.

Emergency Aid Request Approved The State Board adopted a resolution approving emergency aidfor the Educational Information and Resource Center, Camden County, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 18A:58-11. The State Board approved the distribution of no more than $3,323,817 of emergency aid for the EIRC; and instructed the state treasurer to make a payment of $1,118,600 to the EIRC.

School Library MonthThe State Board of Education passed a resolution honoring school library month programs and the role of certified school librarians in education throughout the state of New Jersey.

Certification of School Districts The executive county superintendents have conducted 21 evaluations: 13 full reviews and 8 interim reviews since the last State Board meeting. Four districts have scored 80 percent or above in all five NJQSAC areas. Seventeen districts scored below 80 percent in one or more NJQSAC areas and will continue to implement NJQSAC improvement plans to address deficient indicators. Following plan implementation, the executive county superintendent will conduct another interim progress review.

Student Residency The State Board adopted updated regulations on student residency. In January a law was enacted to permit certain children of military members to remain in their school district of residence when their parent or guardian is ordered into active duty. The department proposes only to add a reference to the new law wherever applicable existing law is referenced. NJSBA’s comments about the regulations were favorably received.

Other Actions In other actions, the State Board adopted Interdistrict Public School Choiceregulations without amendment; as well as fiscal accountability efficiency and budgeting procedures to provide for fiscal accountability, financial accounting, and residency determination for school districts, as well as the financial operations of charter schools. Details are available here.

The State Board also appointed Fidelia Sturdivant, principal, Mildred Barry Garvin Elementary School, East Orange School District, to the State Board of Examiners.

The complete agenda of the State Board meeting for April can be found here.

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