Three new members of the State Board of Education were sworn in at the July meeting, as the Board named new leadership for the coming year. The Board also approved changes to current charter regulations and approved the Jersey City school district for a return to local control.
New & Returning Board Members
Board members Sylvia Sylvia, Kathy Goldenberg and Marybeth Berry were sworn in by Judge McLaughlin. In addition to the new additions, Arcelio Aponte and Jack Fornaro were sworn in to a new term on the board. Additional board members (3) as well as two returning board members, Ronald Butcher and Ernest Lepore, are expected to be sworn in at the August meeting.
The Board additionally elected their leadership for the 2017-18 school year with Arcelio Aponte elected to serve as president and Andrew Mulvihill elected as Vice President.
Jersey City Gains Control
Further, the Board approved a transition plan to return local control to Jersey City school district. The decision was expected after the Board approved the final district performance review area, Instruction and Programming, under the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (QSAC) last month. Jersey City Public Schools has been under state control since 1989 (28 years).
The state’s school monitoring system – the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJQSAC) – is the framework used to evaluate districts in five separate functional areas: governance, fiscal management, personnel, operations, and instruction and program. A 2007 law provides for state-operated districts to regain control of areas in which they have consistently received strong scores on the NJQSAC state accountability scale, as long as the district has adequate programs, policies and personnel to demonstrate that the growth is sustainable.
The State Board of Education passed two resolutions. The first explains that since Jersey city has demonstrated substantial and sustained progress in improving its NJQSAC scores in Instruction and Program, as well as substantial evidence that the public school district has adequate programs, policies and personnel in place and in operation to ensure that the demonstrated progress in Instruction and Program will be sustained the area should be returned to local control. The second resolution actually authorizes the creation of a transition plan, pursuant to N.J.A.C. 6A:30-7.2 and 7.3.
The Board also approved to appointments. Joan Krazinski was appointed as the Acting Superintendent of the Katzenbach School for the Deaf. Ms. Eileen Shaffer was appointed Acting Superintendent of the Paterson School District in light of Dr. Donnie Evans retirement.
Additionallly, the Board adopted changes to current regulations related to charter schools. Thankfully, back in February the Board made the uncharacteristic move of rejecting a portion of Department proposal that would have weakened certification requirements for principals, business administrators and teachers. The proposal was sold as a means to provide more flexibility to charter schools. The board voted, 5-2-1, with one abstention, to remove the pilot certification program from the overall package of proposed regulatory changes back then. That revised proposal was what was approved by the Board today.
The Rejected Certification Proposal
So what got kicked back in February? Quite a lot that NJPSA had raised serious concern about related to certification. Several board members also raised concerns about the different set of standards as a basis for the amendment which eventually excluded the certification regulations. That’s what won the day several months ago.
So what remained in? The amended regulations:
- permit high-performing schools to expedite the charter renewal process;
- allow single-purpose charter schools to operate;
- make it easier for charter schools to secure capital funding and facilities;
- require them to publicly report out their performance; and
- allow students in charter pre-schools to automatically be enrolled at the charter school the next year for kindergarten instead of having to re-enter the school lottery system
The Board also had a first discussion of changes to current regulation, N.J.A.C. 6A: 8, related to Standards & Assessments that will allow the incorporation of the State Seal of Biliteracy into current student graduation options. The seal is a designation from the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) identifying graduating high school students who are able to demonstrate proficiency in English in addition to one or more languages. Participation is voluntary on the part of a school district.
The program has been operational for over a year with 85 districts participating which granted 2,013 Seals to students across 20 languages. This code provision merely codifies the strictures of the existing program
The Board additionally approved changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:3, Controversies and Dispute, at proposal level. While the rules remain substantially the same as the current rules, the proposal includes several amendments for clarity and stylistic or grammatical improvement, includes some flexibility for pro se litigants and creates some exceptions to general appeal requirements that clarifies that residency petitions may be filed after the statutory time period for automatic continued enrollment has expired, subject to the granting of a motion for emergent relief. In light of the package’s limited changes, the Board expedited the review process.
The Board also reviewed at proposal level (meaning the code will be published in the New Jersey Register in expectation of review and final passage in the coming months) changes to N.J.A.C. 6A:19-7 which regulate the private career schools. What is interesting about this code provision is that the New Jersey Department of Education’s regulations must be adopted in conjunction with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s (NJDLWD) rules regarding private career schools at N.J.A.C. 12:41. NJDLWD adopted amendments on December 19. As such, amendments are being recommended to N.J.A.C. 6A:19-7 to align the two provisions.
Specifically the code proposal:
- Reinforces connections between Labor Workforce Development’s code and the Department of Education’s code by inserting references to Labor Workforce Development’s code throughout the subchapter;
- Removes repealed and/or amended statutory references; and
- Aligns definitions and school requirements to Labor Workforce Development’s code, including switching from an annual application for renewal to a biennial application
Further, the Board approved the readoption of N.J.A.C. 6A:21, which relates to the Marie H. Katzenbach School for the Deaf. The Board received an overview of the school’s program from the school’s acting superintendent as well as a review of technical changes to the code provision back in May.
The school was established in 1883, in accordance with state law. It serves auditorily impaired (Deaf and Hard-of Hearing) students from 3 to age 21. Approximately 80% of the students are multiply-disabled. The school currently serves 104 students in the Early Childhood Program, Elementary School, Middle School, High School and Behavioral Support Program. Approximately 30 of those students are residential. Current staff include a superintendent, business administrator, building principals, counselors, social worker, audiologist, behavior consultant, speech/language pathologist, teachers, teaching assistants, personal assistants (for students who need them), residential staff, housekeepers, buildings and grounds workers, cafeteria employees.
Today’s vote permits the State to publish the provision in the New Jersey register to allow for potential final adoption, post review, in the coming months.
Finally, the Board approved 7 reviews (3 full and 4 interim) under NJQSAC. Appendix A lists all of the districts and their DPR scores. One district scored 80 percent or above in all five DPR areas, Bergenfield, and was approved for a period of three years. Six districts scored below 80% in one or more DPR areas and are required to develop and implement a QSAC improvement plan to address deficient indicators.