In the first week of August, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the following measures into law.
School Threat Assessment Teams S-2765/A-4075 (P.L.2022, c.83) requires, beginning in the 2023-2024 school year, each school district and charter school to develop a policy for the establishment of a “threat assessment team” at each school. The purpose of the team is to help ensure a safe and secure school environment by assisting staff in identifying students who pose a potential safety risk and preventing targeted violence in the district. The team is required to include, to the extent possible, the following individuals, as well as additional employees the team deems appropriate:
- A school employee with expertise in student counseling (e.g., school psychologist, school counselor, or school social worker).
- A teacher.
- A school principal or other senior school administrator.
- A safe school resource officer or school employee who serves as a liaison to law enforcement.
- The school safety specialist.
The law enumerates several specific responsibilities of the team, which must be carried out in consultation with a district’s school safety specialist, including providing guidance for students and staff on recognizing threatening behavior in a student, designating members of the school community to whom threatening behavior must be reported, and developing and implementing policies regarding assessment and interventions for students identified as posing a safety threat. The law also requires that team members participate in training provided by the school safety specialist, and specifies that, when assessing a student with an Individualized Education Plan or 504 plan, the team must consult with the student’s IEP team or 504 team. The New Jersey Department of Education, in consultation with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, is required to develop guidelines for school districts regarding the establishment and training of these teams. The NJDOE also is required to provide training to school safety specialists through the New Jersey School Safety Specialist Academy, which in turn will provide training to school staff. NJSBA supported the bill.
Electric School Bus Program A-1282/S-759 (P.L.2022, c.86) establishes a $45 million, three-year grant program in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to help determine the operational reliability and cost effectiveness of replacing diesel-powered school buses with electric school buses.
Under the program, NJDEP will select at least six districts and bus contractors each year through a competitive grant process, with a focus on low-income communities, urban communities and communities that the NJDEP determines to have been burdened with environmental justice issues. NJDEP may not award more than half of the grants to contractors. Grants will support the purchase, lease, or installation of electric school buses and electric school bus charging infrastructure.
The law requires NJDEP to submit a report to the governor and the Legislature within six months following the conclusion of the program. The report will include, among other information, recommendations for how additional funding may be distributed to maximize the number of electric school buses operating in the state. NJSBA supported the bill.
Pre-Apprenticeship Programs S-525/A-280 (P.L.2022, c.89) enhances and expands the state’s current initiatives under the “Youth Transitions to Work Partnership Act,” to establish pre-apprenticeship programs to assist young people in entering apprenticeship programs with links to post-secondary education and credentials. NJSBA supported the bill.
To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.