Education Committees Host School Security Discussion, NJPSA Raises Need to Focus on the Mental Health Needs of New Jersey Students Additional Hearings on April 9th

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On April 5, the Senate and Assembly Education Committees hosted a joint hearing on the critical topic of school security. NJPSA Executive Director Pat Wright, joined by NJPSA President Ralph Aiello and NJPSA Board Member Dr. Mike Vinella, testified before the Education Committees. NJPSA’s focus was the critical importance of both the physical and psychological safety of our students. While recognizing the importance of school security upgrades in school buildings, Wright noted the critical link between school climate and school safety, between school climate and social and emotional learning and the link between social emotional learning and mental health. Wright recommended that the Legislature provide resources to schools to promote the development of a tiered system of supports to address diverse student needs.

Dr. Vinella, the Principal of East Brunswick High School in Middlesex County, reinforced the importance of a positive, connected and proactive school environment where students are supported, empowered and freely communicate with school staff. Vinella highlighted his school’s intervention efforts including the creation of a FlexSchool within his school to address the mental health as well as the social and academic needs of his students.

NJPSA President Ralph Aiello, Principal of Cumberland Regional High School discussed the need for additional school-based professional staffing to provide counseling and mental health services to students. Aiello discussed the benefits of a grant from the Division of Children and Families which currently provides this critical lifeline to students and staff in his building.

The Senate and Assembly Education Committees will hold two additional hearings on this topic and all interested NJPSA members are encouraged to participate.  The first hearing will take place on:

  • April 9, 2018 at Camden County College, William G. Rohrer Center, 1889 Route 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ
  • To sign up to testify at this hearing, please call (609) 847-3850 or contact the NJPSA
    Government Relations Department at (609) 860-1200.

NJPSA will post the date, time and place of the second hearing when details become available.