In testimony before the Joint Committee on the Public Schools on Dec. 4, the New Jersey School Boards Association said that when a board member is sanctioned for violating the School Ethics Act, the board member’s school district should not also be punished.

In cases where the State Ethics Commission and the New Jersey Commissioner of Education have already determined appropriate sanctions for individual members who violated the ethics act, the NJSBA believes that also penalizing the district is unnecessary.

In its testimony, the NJSBA recommended that this “double penalty” be addressed by eliminating a  provision in the governance section of an accountability measure known as the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC).

NJQSAC is an evaluation system created to ensure that districts are providing a thorough and efficient education to all students. It includes quality performance indicators in five key component areas: instruction and program; fiscal management; governance and operations and personnel. If a district does not satisfy at least 80 percent of the weighted quality performance indicators in one or more of the five key component areas, the district must develop an improvement plan. The process includes a review by the executive county superintendent, and a final determination by the commissioner.

The NJSBA told the committee that, while it is generally supportive of the accountability system, it had concerns about the governance indicator and its treatment of ethics matters filed against school officials. In instances where individual board members violate the School Ethics Act, points are removed from the entire board’s governance review score. This hurts the district’s ability to meet the NJQSAC review requirements.

To listen to the hearing in its entirety, please go here.

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