The New Jersey State Board of Education recently proposed reducing the time that newly elected or appointed school board members have to complete mandated training.
Currently new board members are required to take training within their first year; the proposed rules would require training within the first 90 days of board membership.
Change Affects Only New Board Members The changes do not impact timelines for the other board member training requirements. Board members in the second and third years of their first term, and those in the first year of a reelected or reappointed term, currently have a year to complete an NJSBA-provided mandated training course. No changes are currently contemplated to that time period.
The proposal is part of the recommended changes to N.J.A.C 6A:28, School Ethics Commission, which implements the School Ethics Act. The State Board is readopting this section of administrative code, as it is required by law to do periodically.
The State Board originally contemplated reducing the time period for required training to 60 days. However, New Jersey School Boards Association successfully expressed concerns with the administrative difficulties of requiring completion of training in that time period, including the ability for board secretaries to collect accurate district board of education member data, which can be affected by election irregularities; the possible impact of different swearing-in dates; and wanting to offer board members a diverse variety of training experiences.
“The 90 days will permit the NJSBA to continue to offer a diverse variety of training experiences for new board members that accommodate all learning styles while meeting the scheduling challenges inherent in this all-volunteer group of public officials,” NJSBA Director of Governmental Relations Jonathan Pushman noted in testimony before the State Board on Aug. 3. “Additionally, the 90-day training window will meet the commission’s goal of ensuring that all new board members understand the ethical standards that must guide their behavior at the beginning of their first terms in office.”
Previously Issued Advisory Opinions The State Board also included a proposed change in the process to request advisory opinions from the School Ethics Commission.
Any school official who has questions as to whether some particular future conduct would violate the School Ethics Act may request an advance opinion (called an advisory opinion) from the School Ethics Commission.
The proposed change requires those requesting an advisory opinion to certify on the form that they have already searched to see if the question or issue has already been addressed in a publicly available advisory opinion.
If the SEC denies the request because the behavior or conduct has already been addressed in a public opinion, the commission specifically notes the public advisory opinion in the denial and directs the requestor to the commission’s website where it can be reviewed.
The complete text of the proposed changes can be viewed here.
Members of the public have the opportunity to send written comments concerning the proposal. Comments are due by Sept. 16, 2022, and may be submitted via the NJDOE’s Proposed Rules webpage, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or via regular mail to: Hanifa Barnes, assistant commissioner, Division of Legal and External Services, New Jersey Department of Education, P.O. Box 500 Trenton, N.J. 08625-0500.