At its Dec. 2 meeting, the State Board of Education heard updates and took actions on the following items:
- State Operated School District of Camden The superintendent of Camden city schools presented her report to the State Board. The superintendent spoke about the challenges of aging facilities and a shrinking budget with a declining student population. Academically, the students made progress in English and math proficiency; the graduation rate continues to improve while the dropout and suspension rates continue to decline.
- N.J. State Board of Education Recognizes Districts’ Achievements The state board recognized the achievements in 2020 of various school districts, administrators, and teachers, including National Blue and Green Ribbon finalists, and the Superintendent, Business Administrator, and Teacher of the Year, among others. State Board December Recognition Presentation.
- Appointments The State Board approved the appointment of Hanifa Barnes as chief of staff. She was formerly the chief of staff at the Higher Education Student Assistance Authority.
- Appointments to the State Board of Examiners The Board of Examiners is responsible for issuing, revoking and suspending educational certificates of school personnel. Resolution to Approve Appointments to the State Board of Examiners.
- Acceptance of Donated Funds The State Board of Education formally accepted funds for the Katzenbach School for the Deaf. The funds will assist students with technology needs. Resolution to Accept Donated Funds.
The State Board also discussed proposed changes to regulations concerning the programs to support student development, N.J.A.C. 6A:16. The chapter provides and specifies minimum standards for district boards of education to establish policies and procedures and to operate programs to support the social, emotional, and physical development of students, including school health services. The regulations cover physical examinations, intervention and referral services, programs of substance use prevention, intervention, and treatment referral, school safety and security, student discipline, reporting of potentially missing, abused, or neglected child situations; and home instruction and approved alternative education programs.
The NJDOE proposes to readopt the chapter with minimal amendments to ensure the existing rules do not expire and to avoid additional stress on schools and school districts during the 2020-2021 school year. Proposed amendments to the programs to support student development will align the chapter to N.J.S.A. 18A:37-2a, which was enacted in 2016 to prohibit the suspension of students in kindergarten to second grade, unless required by the Zero Tolerance for Guns Act, or for conduct of a violent or sexual nature that endangers other students or adults. The proposed amendments will also clarify reporting requirements for the Student Safety Data System (formerly called the Electronic Violence and Vandalism Reporting System) to align the rules with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA).