On Friday, Sept. 24,  Gov. Phil Murphy took action on a handful of bills that landed on his desk before the Legislature went into recess in June. Among the education-related measures he approved is one that is aimed at reducing teacher shortages. Another is designed to protect students who suffer head injuries and ensure their safe return to school and other activities.

‘Limited’ Teacher Certification Pilot S-2826/A-4594 directs the New Jersey Department of Education to establish a five-year pilot program for the issuance of limited certificates of eligibility with advanced standing (CEAS) and limited certificates of eligibility (CE). The “limited CEAS” and “limited CE” would be available to candidates who may not meet one of the general requirements for a CEAS or CE and are seeking employment in a school, such as the minimum GPA requirement or the requirement to achieve a passing score on a subject matter test.

Those who hold a limited CEAS or limited CE only would be eligible for employment at school districts approved by the NJDOE. Such districts must demonstrate a sufficient capability to support new teachers. The district also must demonstrate:

  • a demographic disparity between the district’s or school’s student population and teaching staff; or
  • a shortage of bilingual education teachers; or
  • a critical need to fill teacher vacancies or hardship caused by teacher vacancies also showing that hiring a teacher with limited certification would fill a need.

Following the receipt of two effective or highly effective evaluations within a three-year period, the teacher would be eligible for a standard instructional certificate.

Concussion Protocol Under S-225/A-679, student athletes who have sustained a concussion would be prohibited from returning to competition until they have returned to regular school activities and are symptom-free. The return of the student athlete or cheerleader would be in accordance with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) graduated, six-step “Return to Play Progression” recommendations. This builds upon existing law stipulating that a student-athlete must be evaluated by, and receive written clearance from, a physician or healthcare provider trained in the evaluation and management of concussions in order to return to competition or practice.

School district policies concerning the prevention and treatment of sports-related concussions and other head injuries among student-athletes and cheerleaders, as required under existing statute, must be updated in accordance with this law. They also must be updated whenever the CDC updates the “Return to Play Progression” recommendations.