While evaluating, reviewing and revising policies, reading sentences that contain phrases like: “the board shall notify…” or “the board is required to report…” can raise the hairs on the back of the neck of any board of education member. There is always that nagging concern: Are we doing this? Board members are engaged community members with a sense of obligation to their elected or appointed position and they care deeply that their district is doing what is necessary to stay in compliance with law.

Frequently, the required notifications and reports are to the executive county superintendent (ECS).

The county offices are the focal point of general support, oversight and communications between local districts and the New Jersey Department of Education’s central office. Each county office is led by an executive county superintendent and has a core staff, which may include an executive county business official, a county education specialist and a county child study supervisor. Like the chief school administrator in a district, the executive county superintendent is the person ultimately responsible for overseeing the delegation of responsibilities to county staff members and ensuring that staff perform their assigned duties. The ECS is accountable to the New Jersey Commissioner of Education, who in turn, is accountable to the State Board of Education.

Some of the responsibilities of the executive county superintendents and their staff include performing on-site evaluations of school districts every three years, as required by the N.J. Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC); reviewing and approving district budgets, district administrative contracts and transportation contracts; inspecting school buildings to ensure compliance with health and safety codes; issuing county substitute certificates; conducting special education program reviews; and providing support and technical assistance to school districts, boards of education, parents/guardians, and community members on a variety of topics.

The responsibilities of school districts to report to the executive county superintendent are described throughout the New Jersey Department of Education administrative code. A summary of some of these responsibilities follows:

Critical Policy Reference Manual
series 5000, Student

N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.4 Comprehensive Equity Plan All school districts, charter schools and renaissance school projects are required to develop a three-year Comprehensive Equity Plan (CEP) and submit it to the executive county superintendent for approval and provide a copy of the comprehensive equity plan to the NJDOE.

In addition, each district board of education must submit to the department at the end of each school year a statement of assurance regarding achieving the objectives of the comprehensive equity plan.

Every three years the county office conducts a Comprehensive Equity Plan Assessment. Find information and forms.

N.J.A.C. 6A:16-7.7 Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Each board is required to submit to the executive county superintendent a copy of its approved harassment, intimidation, and bullying policy within 30 days of its adoption or revision.

N.J.A.C. 6A:17-2.7 Disputes Regarding the Residency of a Homeless Student The chief school administrator must immediately notify the ECS of any dispute which occurs regarding the determination of homelessness or the determination of the school district of enrollment made by a representative of the school district of residence who, in consultation with the department’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Coordinator or his or her designee, decides the child’s status.

N.J.A.C. 6A:22-3.2 Educational Stability When the Division of Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P) or another state-authorized agency places a child in foster care there is a presumption that the child will remain in the school currently attended by the child, unless DCP&P or another state-authorized agency determines that this is not in the best interest of the child. The district is required to work with DCP&P to develop a plan for the student and arrange transportation and other services to further the student’s educational stability. Parents/guardians may appeal to the ECS a determination made by the district that the situation does not meet the family crisis criteria.

N.J.A.C. 6A:32-14.2 Voter Registration The chief school administrator of a public school district with a high school must sign a statement of assurance and submit it to the executive county superintendent no later than June 30 each year. The statement of assurance shall affirm that voter registration forms, a summary of voter registration eligibility requirements, and materials describing the role of a citizen and the importance of voting were distributed to graduating seniors.

Critical Policy Reference Manual
series 6000, Instruction

N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1 Standards and Assessment District boards of education must provide to the executive county superintendent their graduation requirements each year they are evaluated through NJQSAC and update the filed copy each time their graduation policies are revised.

N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.14 Bilingual Education On a case-by-case basis, a school district may join with another district board of education to provide bilingual, ESL, or English language services programs with the approval of the executive county superintendent.

N.J.A.C. 6A:15-1.10 Bilingual Education Students who have exited a bilingual program recently, who are not progressing in the mainstream English program may be considered for reentry to bilingual and ESL programs after a minimum of one-half an academic year and within two years of exit; the mainstream English classroom teacher may recommend retesting with the approval of the principal. A waiver of the minimum time limitation may be approved by the executive county superintendent upon request of the chief school administrator if the student is experiencing extreme difficulty in adjusting to the mainstream program.

N.J.A.C. 6A:30-3.2 New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) The District Performance Review, the declaration page, and the district board of education resolution approving the District Performance Review must be submitted to the appropriate executive county superintendent’s office by November 15 or at another time designated by the education commissioner if he or she has directed a school district to undergo an immediate comprehensive review, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:7A-11 and N.J.A.C. 6A:30-3.1(a).

N.J.A.C. 6A:30-3.3 New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) The NJDOE must confirm receipt of a school district’s District Performance Review, district board of education resolution, and declaration page. The department compiles and analyzes the results of each school district’s District Performance Review and any additional review conducted by department staff, and develops for the commissioner a recommendation for the school district’s placement on the performance continuum. The commissioner makes the final determination after reviewing the recommendation and all the data, facts and reports. Although not specifically mentioned in the law, the analysis is done through the office of the executive county superintendent.

Critical Policy Reference Manual
series 4000, Instructional and Support Personnel

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-5.5 Assignment of Titles Each district board of education must assign to teaching staff members position titles that are recognized by the department. If a district board of education wants to use an unrecognized position title, or if a previously established unrecognized title exists prior to appointing a candidate, the district board of education must submit to the executive county superintendent a written request, including a detailed job description, for permission to use the proposed title. The executive county superintendent exercises his or her discretion regarding approval of the request and determines the appropriate certification and title for the position. The executive county superintendent annually reviews all previously approved unrecognized position titles and shall determine whether the titles will be continued for the next school year.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-5.11 Exchange Teachers A district board of education may employ a teacher from another state or country in exchange for one of its own teaching staff members for a period of up to one school year. The district board of education must request that the executive county superintendent issue a substitute credential to the exchange teacher pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-7.7.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-5.14 Limited Certificate for Foreign Teachers Prior to hiring a foreign teacher, the district board of education must demonstrate to the executive county superintendent its inability to locate a suitable certified teacher. The board submits the candidate’s application and supporting documentation and maintains all documentation of its effort to employ a suitable certified teacher. Pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:26-1 and 8.1, a limited certificate for foreign teachers is a non-renewable certificate issued to citizens of other countries and is valid for three years.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-7.4 Substitutes The executive county superintendent approves and issues substitute teacher credentials. The law places restrictions on the use of substitute teachers to fill long-term vacancies.

Holders of a certificate of eligibility (CE) or a certificate of eligibility with advanced standing (CEAS), or a standard certificate with an endorsement not within the scope of the subject being taught shall be permitted to substitute for no more than 40 instructional days in the same classroom per year. The school district must notify the executive county superintendent if a holder of an instructional CE or CEAS substitutes for more than 20 instructional days in the same classroom. Holders of an instructional CE, CEAS, or standard certificate with an endorsement within the scope of the subject being taught are permitted to substitute for 60 instructional days in the same classroom per year unless the executive county superintendent is notified of an extension by the school district.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-13.1 Acting Administrators The district board of education must apply in writing to the commissioner, through the executive county superintendent, for permission to employ an acting administrator who does not hold the standard New Jersey certificate required for the position. The administrative positions include superintendent or assistant superintendent, school business administrator, principal, or vice principal.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-14.8 School Counselor Upon request, the executive county superintendent may issue an emergency certification for a school counselor.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9B-7.6 Substitute Credential for Positions not Requiring Instructional Certificates The executive county superintendent may issue a substitute credential to serve as a substitute school nurse/non-instructional to the holder of a valid New Jersey registered professional nurse license. A substitute school nurse/non-instructional may serve a total of 60 instructional days in the same position in one school district during the school year. The executive county superintendent may also issue a substitute credential to serve as a substitute educational interpreter to candidates with a high school diploma or GED and who have completed the Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) with a minimum score of three. Substitute educational interpreters may serve for up to one academic year.

N.J.A.C. 6A:32-4.2 Approval of Paraprofessional Staff Statements of assurance affirming that all paraprofessional staff hired were employed as instructional or health and safety personnel or in accordance with the requirements of individualized education programs must be submitted biannually to the executive county superintendent no later than September 30 and January 31.

N.J.A.C. 6A:9C-4.3 Professional Development The superintendent may appeal to the executive county superintendent if he or she disagrees with the district board of education regarding professional development plan contents or progress toward completion. The executive county superintendent has final decision-making authority on all such matters.

The list is long and reflects the continual communication between the local, county and state levels of government that is necessary to ensure that New Jersey provides and effective and equitable education to all its children.

The above items comprise less than half of the comprehensive listing. For an overview of the remaining requirements, stay tuned for further installments in School Leader on this topic.

For sample and model regulations or for help developing policy and regulation language to suit your needs do not hesitate to contact NJSBA Policy Services.

Jean Harkness is an NJSBA policy consultant.