On Thursday, Aug. 13, Gov. Phil Murphy approved a bill that would establish tenure-like protection for school district support staff.  The legislation, S-993/A-631 (P.L.2020, c.66) will subject a board of education’s personnel decisions to challenges through binding arbitration.  As signed into law, it would grant a non-teaching staff member the right to submit to binding arbitration virtually any disciplinary action taken by a board of education against the individual. The bill includes an expansive definition of disciplinary action that includes reprimands, withholding of increments, terminations or non-renewals, expiration or lapse of employment, or lack of continuation of employment.  In addition, it permits the employee to submit to binding arbitration any dispute regarding a disciplinary action regardless of the reason behind the employer’s action.

The NJSBA long opposed the measure, which was strongly backed by the New Jersey Education Association, and helped obtain an outright veto of it during the Christie administration. During legislative deliberations, the NJSBA cited its negative impact on effective management of employee performance, school district operations and a board’s ability to meet changing educational needs. The Association also expressed concerns about the potential for expensive, protracted litigation resulting from the new structure and the adverse impact that will have on district resources. NJSBA’s position statement opposing the legislation can be found here.

The legislation went into effect immediately upon obtaining the governor’s signature.

Bill Extending Deadlines for School Sports Physicals Becomes Law Legislation, S-2518/A-4295, 8/12/2020 (P.L.2020, c.63), sponsored by Sen. Michael Testa and Assemblyman Erik Simonsen of the 1st legislative district, which allows additional time for high school and middle school athletes to schedule their sports physicals, was signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy on Aug. 12.

The law ensures students will not be prevented from participating in their school sports. The pandemic made it difficult to schedule appointments for sports physicals because of doctors’ offices coping with COVID concerns and limited patient hours.

Students from grades six through 12 who wish to participate in school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletics are required to pass a doctor’s examination within one calendar year of the first day of official sports practice. The new law allows student athletes to participate in the fall season provided they have a physical before the end of the season.

By extending the deadline for sports physicals in the new school year, students can return to their sport and fully participate.  NJSBA fully supports the new law.