On Friday, July 19th, Governor Phil Murphy signed over two dozen bills and resolutions into law. A number of these pieces of legislation impact schools and educators:
P.L.2019, JR-17 Designates September of each year as “Youth Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” in New Jersey in order to increase public awareness of the risk factors and warning signs for youth suicide, increase community involvement in creating strategies to prevent teens and young adults from taking their own lives, and to encourage the development of Statewide comprehensive anti-suicide initiatives. This joint resolution takes effect immediately.
P.L.2019, c.169 Prohibits the DOE from regulating maximum salary amount school district may pay its superintendent of schools and codifies standards for contract review. The executive county superintendent of schools was given the authority in 2007 to review and approve all employment contracts for superintendents, according to standards adopted by the Commissioner of Education. Those standards provide that no contract for a superintendent is permitted to include an annual salary in excess of the “maximum salary amount,” which varies depending on the number of students enrolled in the district. This act takes effect immediately.
P.L. 2019, c.171 Requires teachers of health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six in public schools to possess appropriate endorsement to instructional certificate. This bill requires that teachers appointed by a board of education to teach health and physical education in grades kindergarten through six possess a health and physical education endorsement to the instructional certificate; teachers appointed to teach physical education in grades kindergarten through six possess a physical education endorsement to the instructional certificate; and teachers appointed to teach health in grades kindergarten through six possess either a health endorsement to the instructional certificate or a school nurse endorsement to the educational services certificate. However, the bill exempts from the bill’s endorsement requirements persons who teach former Abbott district kindergarten students under a contract between the former Abbott district and a licensed child care center or other provider. The bill also includes a “grandfather” provision that will allow teachers who received an elementary school endorsement prior to the bill’s effective date to continue to teach health and physical education, physical education, or health at these grade levels. This act takes effect in the 2019-2020 school year.
P.L.2019, c.178 Requires the board of education to prominently display information about the Department of Children and Families’ State Central Registry in each school of the district. The information will be required to give instructions to call 911 for emergencies and include directions for accessing the department’s website or social media platforms for more information on reporting abuse, neglect and exploitation. In New Jersey, any person having reasonable cause to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or acts of abuse is required to immediately report this information to the Department of Children and Families’ State Central Registry.
P.L. 2019, c.179 Establishes task force to examine and make recommendations regarding implementation of “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act.” The purpose of the task force is to make recommendations regarding the implementation of the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act”. The task force will consist of eleven members: four appointed by the Governor, two by the Senate President, two by the Assembly Speaker; the former chairperson of the prior Anti-Bullying task force; a family member of a student who has experienced bullying; and a student over the age of 17 who personally experienced bullying. The duty of the task force is the study and evaluate the current implementation of the “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act” to identify areas for improvement, and to make recommendations regarding any appropriate changes or updates to the law or regulation implementing the law. This act takes effect immediately, and the task force expires 30 days after the issuance of its report.
P.L. 2019, c.182 Clarifies that family day care providers or other persons who are subjects of criminal history record back checks have access to disqualifying information. This bill amends current law to clarify that DCF is required to provide a written notice of disqualifying convictions to a prospective or current family day care provider or other person who was the subject of a criminal history record background check, as part of the family day care provider certification process, if it is determined the family day care provider or the other person has a disqualifying record of convictions. This act takes effect immediately.
P.L. 2019, c.184 Allows TPAF retiree to be employed, without TPAF reenrollment, by school district as certificated superintendent or administrator for more than two years when in best interests of school district (approved by the Commissioner of Education) and provided that no such renewal shall provide the former member an election whether or not to be reenrolled. This act takes effect immediately.
P.L.2019, c.185 Requires school districts to incorporate age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness and prevention education in grades preschool through 12 as part of New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Comprehensive Health and Physical Education. This bill is modeled on legislation adopted in a number of other states. The legislation in those states is often referred to as “Erin’s Law” in honor of the young woman, Erin Merryn, who was a child victim of sexual abuse and has been advocating for the passage of the legislation to better educate and empower children. The Commissioner of Education, in consultation with the Department of Children and Families, the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Prevent Child Abuse New Jersey, the New Jersey Children’s Alliance, and other entities with relevant expertise, shall provide school districts with age appropriate sample learning activities and resources. The bill also provides that a teaching staff member may satisfy PD hours through participation in training programs on sexual abuse and assault awareness prevention. This act takes effect with the 2020-2021 school year (the first full school year following the date of enactment).
P.L.2019, c.189 Requires the Department of Education to develop guidelines for school districts concerning child trafficking awareness and prevention. The Department of Education (in consultation with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Children and Families) will develop guidelines to provide direction for schools in creating awareness of child trafficking, including warning signs and risk factors associated with child trafficking and prevention. Additionally this piece of legislation requires the Commissioner of Education to provide school districts with guidance and resources regarding professional development opportunities for teachers and school staff regarding child trafficking awareness, and developmentally appropriate resources regarding child trafficking awareness. This measure takes effect immediately.
P.L.2019, c.190 Requires public officer or employee to forfeit pension upon conviction for corruption of public resources, sexual contact, lewdness, or sexual assault when offense involves or touches upon public office or employment. Under current law, a person who holds or has held any public office, position, or employment is required to forfeit all of the person’s pension or retirement benefit upon conviction of certain enumerated crimes involving or touching such office, position or employment. This new law adds the crimes of corruption of public resources, harassment, sexual contact, lewdness, and sexual assault to that list. This act takes effect immediately.