A bill, A-3539, that would require public and nonpublic schools to test for and remediate lead in drinking water, and to disclose test results, passed the Assembly Environment and Solid Waste Committee on Monday, April 4. NJSBA supports the bill.

Specifically, under the bill, each school district, charter school, and nonpublic school would be required to undertake periodic testing of each drinking water outlet in each school for the presence of lead. The tests would be conducted by a certified laboratory in accordance with the sampling and testing methods specified in the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) technical guidance for reducing lead in drinking water at schools, or more protective guidance issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP). The initial tests would be conducted no later than 90 days after the effective date of the bill, and subsequent tests would be conducted every five years thereafter, unless the NJDEP determines, on a case-by-case basis, that more or less frequent testing is necessary or sufficient to protect the public health.

The NJDEP may exempt a school from the requirement to conduct initial testing if the district, charter school or nonpublic school demonstrates to the NJDEP that it has conducted testing that substantially complies with the technical guidance within two years prior to the effective date of the bill, and any drinking water outlet that was found to have an elevated lead level has either been removed from service or remediated.

The assistance of a local health agency or public water system may be provided to help ensure compliance with the bill. Nothing in the bill would prevent any school from conducting more frequent testing than required by the bill.

A school district, charter school, or nonpublic school that is considered a public water system and meets the applicable standards for lead in drinking water would be exempt from the testing requirements.

Criminalizing Sexual Activity Between School Employees and Adult Students The Assembly Judiciary Committee released legislation, A-2101, that would explicitly criminalize sexual activity between school employees and students between the ages of 18 and 20. Current law already makes it illegal for an individual to engage in such activity with anyone under the age of 18 over whom the individual has supervisory or disciplinary authority.  The legislation applies to teaching staff members or substitute teachers, school bus drivers, other school employees, contracted service providers, or volunteers who have disciplinary or supervisory power over the victim.  Sexual assault is a crime of the second degree, which is punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to ten years, or a fine of up to $15,000, or both.  The NJSBA supports the measure, which may now be posted for a floor vote in the Assembly.

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