The Assembly Education Committee considered and favorably released the following legislation at a committee hearing on Monday, November 14th:
A-1024 (Jasey, Benson, Taliaferro, Pinkin) – Traumatic Brain Injury Coordinator and Regional Consultants
This legislation directs the Commissioner of Education to appoint a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Education Coordinator responsible for evaluating, coordinating and developing local, county, regional and State educational programs and services for students with traumatic brain injury. The TBI Coordinator will:
- Establish a comprehensive, Statewide network of Regional TBI Consultants to aid districts in meeting the needs of students suffering from TBI;
- Develop and implement an annual training plan to build district capacity to serve these students;
- Develop a methodology for the systematic identification, assessment and intervention of students with TBI;
- Develop a hospital-to-school transition protocol for the student to return to the classroom;
- Develop a model policy for classroom return of TBI students; and
- Collect data on TBI among students.
The bill also directs the Commissioner to appoint a Regional TBI Consultant in four regions of the State to assist districts in serving these students. NJPSA supported the legislative goals of A-1024 to provide expertise, a model policy and training assistance to school personnel, but raised concerns about the need for regional consultants due to a potential duplication of local child study team efforts. Bill sponsor Assemblywoman Mila Jasey indicated her willingness to work with NJPSA and other organizations on the legislation.
A-4019 (Mazzeo) – Wearing of Military Uniform During High School Graduation
This legislation would permit students who are members of the U.S. Armed Forces, if the student has fulfilled all of the State and local requirements to receive a high school diploma, the student is eligible to participate in the graduation ceremony and the student has completed basic training for, and is an active member of, a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. NJPSA supports A-4019.
A-2786/S-1474 (Benson, Caride, Sumter/Ruiz)- Special Education/Autism Course Requirements in Teacher Preparation and Certification
A-2786/S-1474 requires teacher preparation programs for the instructional certificate to include a minimum of 6 credit hours of instruction or clinical experience including internships in special education. Additionally, the legislation requires an unspecified number of credit hours in autism spectrum disorder and evidence-based instructional practices to address the instructional needs of autistic children for teacher candidates seeking certification for a teacher of students with disabilities endorsement. NJPSA supports this legislation to strengthen the knowledge and skills of all teacher candidates to prepare them to work with students with disabilities.
A-4175 (Caride) – NJDOE Guidance on Gifted Identification of ELL Students
NJPSA supports A-4175 which seeks to enhance access to gifted programs in New Jersey schools to our English Language Learners (ELLs). National statistics indicate that ELLs are often under-represented in programs serving gifted and talented students due to a lack of identification of the abilities of these students by educators (USDOE, March 2014, NonELL-7% identification rate compared to ELL students with 2% identification rate.) The bill requires the Commissioner to develop guidance to educators and districts focused on addressing challenges in the identification of ELLs for these programs, utilizing multiple methods and measures in assessing eligibility, and the importance of professional development of and collaboration among educators in the identification process.
A-2422 (McGuckin/Wolfe/Rible) – Encourages implementation of Natural High Drug Prevention Program
NJPSA supports A-2422 which encourages school districts to consider utilizing the Natural High Drug Prevention to deter drug use among middle and high school students.
A-3856/S-1451 (Holley/Ruiz/Allen) – NJDOE Data Base of Special Education Decisions
NJPSA supports this legislation which requires the Commissioner of Education to establish a database of special education decisions and post them on the NJDOE website as guidance to districts.
Legislation Held in Committee:
The Assembly Education did not hear, but instead held two pieces of legislation that had been posted for consideration:
A-931 (Wolfe/McGuckin/Benson/McKnight) which would establish an Autism Education Council, and A-2186 (Singleton/Caride) which would allow school districts to enter into school construction public-private partnership agreements with private entities.