Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a school security initiative that directs all public and nonpublic schools in the state to submit critical incident mapping data to local law enforcement in an electronic format. The Senate Education Committee and Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee also met to approve various education measures.
School Mapping Bill
On Nov. 30, Murphy signed S-2426 (P.L.2022, c.122), which will require all public and nonpublic schools in New Jersey to submit critical incident mapping data to local law enforcement in an electronic format. The bill amends the existing requirement that districts share “blueprints and maps” with local law enforcement to instead require, beginning with the 2023-2024 school year, districts to share the following mapping data:
- Aerial images of schools.
- Floor plans, including room and suite numbers.
- Building access points.
- Locations of hazardous materials and utility shutoffs.
- Any other relevant location information.
The required mapping will be funded by a $6.5 million investment of American Rescue Plan Funds announced by the governor in August. For additional information, see the Nov. 1 School Board Notes article “Legislative Update: Assembly Sends School Security Bill to Governor; Senate Education and Transportation Committees Advance Various Education Measures” and the governor’s news release.
Senate Education Committee
On Dec. 1, the Senate Education Committee approved the following bills.
Security Drills & Students with Disabilities S-2057 would take various steps designed to ensure that schools provide students with disabilities the supports and accommodations necessary to address their unique needs during fire drills, security drills and actual emergency situations. The bill would:
- Require that school safety and security training provided to school employees under current law, in public and nonpublic schools, address the unique needs of students with disabilities in the event of a fire drill, security drill, or actual emergency. Schools would be required to make employees aware of the anticipated supports – such as those for mobility, medical, and communication needs – that will be required for these students, and any services that must be provided under students’ IEPs, individualized health care plans and 504 plans.
- Require that the building security drill guide and training materials developed by the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security include information on the unique needs of students with disabilities, including protocol for accommodating those students.
- Require school districts and nonpublic schools to ensure that students’ IEPs, individualized health care plans, 504 plans, or service plans (for nonpublic school students) document the student’s unique mobility, sensory, medical, social, communication, emotional, regulatory and decision-making needs in the event of a fire drill, school security drill, or actual emergency. If it is determined that a student requires supplementary supports, the plans would be required to describe the supports, modifications, accommodations, and services to be provided, and describe the role of school employees in supporting the student. The school district and, if applicable, nonpublic school would be required to review the determinations made in these plans at least annually.
The New Jersey School Boards Association supports the bill. In 2019, the NJSBA participated in a Summit on School Safety convened by the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities, which informed the council’s report, “School Safety Issues Affecting Students with Disabilities: A Call to Action.” That report recommended that schools include all students with disabilities in all school safety drills, and to include the needs of those students in school safety planning. The bill next heads to the full Senate for further consideration. The bill’s Assembly counterpart, A-1174, has not yet received a vote in committee.
Postsecondary Transition Year Pilot Program S-2076 would establish a three-year “Twelfth Grade Postsecondary Transition Year Pilot Program” in the New Jersey Department of Education. The program would provide grants to participating districts to offer 12th grade students a guided start to postsecondary coursework.
Districts interested in participating would submit applications to the NJDOE, which would select a total of six districts, two in each of the southern, central, and northern regions of the state. The bill would require NJDOE to select districts “impacted substantially by the COVID-19 public health crisis which have a high proportion of economically disadvantaged students and low rates of college enrollment among recent high school graduates.”
Under the program, participating districts would be required to:
- Enter into a partnership agreement with an institution of higher education.
- Enroll students in 6-15 academic credits at the postsecondary level each semester.
- Provide students support and counseling services necessary to ensure their academic success.
- Provide program and student data disaggregated by demographic subgroups to the NJDOE.
The 6-15 postsecondary credits that a participating 12th grader takes under this program must include a coherent sequence of courses applicable toward a postsecondary degree or credential and the student’s high school diploma requirements. The partner institution of higher education would be required to waive student fees and charge no more than $100 per credit. Participating students would be required to maintain a 2.0 GPA to stay in the program. The bill also provides that public institutions of higher education must accept these credits and apply them toward an applicable degree program, in accordance with the institution’s credit transfer policies.
The NJSBA supports the bill. It next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Its Assembly counterpart, A-3319, has not moved.
Ticket Prices at Postseason Athletic Events S-2902 revises legislation enacted in 2007 related to ticket prices at postseason athletic events. Under the bill, a school district would not be permitted to join any voluntary association that oversees activities associated with statewide interscholastic sports programs if the association requires increased ticket prices for attendance at playoff games compared to regular season games, unless those increased ticket prices are required to offset event-related expenses including, but not limited to, rental, staffing, security, or insurance costs. The bill would provide that in addition to the requirement that prices of postseason tickets be increased only to offset event-related expenses, in the case of a playoff game held at a public school, a school district would not be permitted to join an association that increases adult ticket prices at that playoff game by more than 300% of the cost of a regular season adult ticket charged for a comparable event at the school district where the playoff game is held.
The bill would also require that the association offer discounted prices on student tickets for playoff games due to economic hardship. In addition, the association would be permitted to offer discounted ticket prices for other groups as deemed necessary by the association in consultation with the school district where the playoff game is held. The association would be required to file playoff game ticket prices with the NJDOE no later than 60 days prior to the scheduled playoff game, although the association would be able to subsequently file adjusted playoff game ticket prices with the commissioner no later than 30 days prior to the scheduled playoff game.
The NJSBA is monitoring the bill, which next heads to the Senate floor for further consideration. At this time, the bill does not have an Assembly counterpart.
APSSD Audits S-2927 would prohibit the commissioner of education from issuing an adverse finding, adjustment, or penalty on the annual independent certified audit of an APSSD more than seven years following submission of the audit. The bill heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Its Assembly counterpart, A-4396, was approved by the Assembly Education Committee Sept. 27, and currently awaits further action by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. The NJSBA is monitoring the bill.
Student Dropout Prevention S-3080 would establish an “Office of Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth” in the NJDOE. The bill would also establish a Student Dropout Prevention Task Force.
The NJDOE’s Office of Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth would be charged with developing a statewide strategic plan to prevent students from dropping out of school, address the needs for the reenrollment of student dropouts, and develop strategies to increase reenrollment. The office would be required to collaborate with school districts in the development of that plan.
The purpose of the Student Dropout Prevention Task Force would be to analyze the causes of students leaving school prior to graduation, recommend best practices for reducing dropout rates, and develop strategies to increase the reenrollment of students who have left school. The task force would consist of 18 members, including but not limited to representatives from the NJDOE, the New Jersey Department of Corrections, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce Foundation, as well as superintendents, a principal, a guidance counselor, and teachers. The task force would be charged with issuing a final report to the governor and the Legislature detailing its findings and recommendations within nine months.
The NJSBA supports the bill. It next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Its Assembly counterpart, A-398, has not moved yet.
Survey on Holocaust Instruction S-3145 would require the NJDOE to develop and distribute to school districts a survey regarding instruction on the Holocaust and genocides. The survey would be designed to assess whether and how school districts are implementing existing instructional requirements regarding the Holocaust and genocides. The bill would allow NJDOE to require a school district identified by the survey as not meeting those requirements to complete a corrective action plan. NJDOE would be required to submit a report to the governor and Legislature within 180 days detailing the findings of the survey and, if needed, recommendations to strengthen the instructional requirement.
The NJSBA supports the bill, which next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Its Assembly counterpart, A-4720, has not yet moved.
Universal School Meals SCR-121 urges the U.S. Congress to provide for a permanent universal school meals program. NJSBA supports the resolution. It next heads to the Senate floor for further consideration.
Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee
On Dec. 5, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved the following bills.
Access to Menstrual Products S-1221 would require school districts to ensure that students in each school serving any of the grades 6-12 have direct access to menstrual products in at least half of female and gender-neutral school bathrooms free of charge. The state would be required to pay the cost of providing these products. The bill was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on May 9 and by the Senate Education Committee June 2. It next heads to the Senate floor for further consideration. Its Assembly counterpart, A-1349, has not moved yet. NJSBA supports the legislation. The NJDOE, in conjunction with the NJ Department of Health, would be required to periodically review and assess review and assess whether the provision of free menstrual products meets the needs of menstruating students, and, if necessary, make recommendations regarding the expansion of access to menstrual products to students in grades below grade six.
To view the full text of any of the bills summarized above, please visit the New Jersey Legislature’s website.