At its May monthly meeting, the New Jersey State Board of Education heard updates and took action on the following items:

  • Physical Fitness and Sport Month in New Jersey: The State Board passed a resolution recognizing May as Physical Fitness and Sport Month in the state. In passing the resolution, the State Board noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that persons aged 6–17 years participate in at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Additionally, N.J.S.A. 18A:35-7 and N.J.S.A. 18A:35-8 require all students in grades 1-12 to participate in at least two and one-half hours per week in health, safety and physical education.
  • Recognition of the 2023 Milken Honorees: The State Board recognized this year’s Milken award recipients. They are Taylor Trost, East Windsor School District; Riley Gartland, Cinnaminson School District; and Virginia Fasulo, Lodi Borough School District. The Milken awards recognize teaching excellence. Each educator in the program is given a $25,000 unrestricted financial award and the opportunity to participate in ongoing professional development at yearly state conferences, an annual National Education Conference, and through state networks of educators, state agency personnel, legislators, university personnel, business partners and foundation staff. New Jersey joined the Milken National Educator Awards in 2002 as the 45th state to participate.
  • Appointments: The State Board appointed Tom McMahon as director, Office of Fiscal Policy and Planning. This office develops and maintains fiscal policy for public school districts and approved private schools for students with disabilities. It also provides guidance on budgeting, accounting, reporting and other school fiscal practices to ensure compliance with GAAP accounting, and state and federal regulations.  
  • Religious Holidays Calendar Resolution: The State Board approved its annual list of religious holidays for which students may receive an excused absence in accordance with law. Boards of education, at their discretion, may add other days to the list for the schools of their districts. 
  • Special Education: The State Board approved amendments to the special education regulations allowing occupational therapy and physical therapy to be provided in accordance with all applicable state statutes and rules. The approved rules clarify that physical therapy may be provided by physical therapy assistants pursuant to the supervision of a certified physical therapist. Additionally, the approved rules allow for the provision of related services through virtual instruction, as appropriate, and as required by the student’s individualized education program. The rules also set forth the conditions for when the related services can be provided in accordance with the subsection: a student with a disability is unable to attend school due to a temporary or chronic medical condition, a school building or school district is closed and the school district has implemented its program of virtual or remote instruction or the student requires a mandatory period of isolation/quarantine for at least five days because the student has contracted a communicable disease or has been exposed to a communicable disease. The rules provide flexibility for school districts to provide related services virtually when a student is unable to attend school in person. This flexibility will ensure continuity of services to students with disabilities, prevent regression of skills during the period of home instruction and allow the student to make progress on the goals and objectives in the student’s IEP.
  • Equivalency and Waiver: The state board began discussions on the rules governing the equivalency and waiver process, which provide the opportunity for regulatory flexibility for school districts and most programs regulated by the New Jersey Department of Education. An equivalency is permission to meet the requirements of a rule through an alternative means selected by the district board of education. A waiver allows a district board of education to avoid compliance with the specific procedures or substantive requirements of a rule for reasons that are educationally, organizationally and fiscally sound. The rules require a school district’s educational community, including parents, administration, and staff, to be informed of the proposed equivalency or waiver and provided the opportunity to comment.