Update from the NJ Statehouse Week of February 7th, 2022 What happened in Education Policy Under the Golden Dome this Week?
The Assembly Education Committee met on Monday, February 7th for their first meeting of the new session. The Assembly Education Committee has three new members, all newly elected legislators: Assemblywoman Sadaf F. Jaffer is a Democrat representing the 16th legislative district, Assemblywoman Michele Matsikoudis is a Republican representing the 21st legislative district, and Assemblyman Brandon Umba, a Republican representing the 8th legislative district. Following are the bills advanced by the committee on Monday.
School Security Tip Line
A-180, sponsored by Assemblywoman Linda S. Carter and Assemblyman Anthony S. Verrelli, requires the Attorney General to establish a program that provides a means for the public to anonymously report information concerning unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent, or criminal activities in schools or the threat of those activities. NJPSA submitted testimony in support of the goals of this legislation, but raised important operational questions and submitted recommendations by way of proposed amendments, which were adopted by the committee. The Committee voted favorably to advance this bill 7-0.
Special Education Due Process Petitions Filing related to COVID-19
A-1281 sponsored by Assemblyman Sterley S. Stanley, Assemblywoman Linda S. Carter, and Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, this bill extends the period of time a parent, guardian, or local educational agency has to request a due process hearing regarding the education of a child with disabilities during a COVID-19 school closure or during periods of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction. This bill would allow a parent, guardian, or local educational agency to file a request for a due process hearing regarding the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of a free and appropriate public education of a child with a disability during a COVID-19 school closure or a period of virtual, remote, hybrid, or in-person instruction occurring between March 18, 2020 and September 1, 2021 at any time prior to September 1, 2023. NJPSA worked to secure important amendments that enabled us to ultimately support the bill. Read NJPSA’s testimony. The Committee voted favorably to advance this bill 7-0. This bill was also passed by the Senate Education Committee last week and is set to be voted on by the Senate at their voting session on Monday.
Permits use of preferred names on student diplomas
A-1588 sponsored by Assemblyman William F. Moen, Jr and Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, permits graduating students to use preferred names on diplomas conferred by both public and nonpublic schools, institutions of higher education, and proprietary institutions licensed to offer academic degrees. Graduating students would not be required to provide legal documentation sufficient to demonstrate a legal name or gender change in order to use a preferred name. Schools or institutions would have the right to deny a preferred name request if the preferred name is intended to misrepresent the person’s identity or misappropriate the identity of another person, avoid a legal obligation, harm the reputation or interests of the school or institution, or be derogatory, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate. The committee amended the bill to permit a public or nonpublic school, institution of higher education, or proprietary institution licensed to offer academic degrees to charge a nominal fee for the reissuance of any document requested by a former student pursuant to this bill. NJPSA testified with concerns about this bill as it is currently drafted. The Committee voted to approve the bill 6-0, with one abstention. The sponsors have committed to working with the stakeholders before this bill advances further.
Title IX Coordinator
A-2066 sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, Assemblyman Raj Mukherji and
Assemblywoman Angela V. McKnight requires public schools, and nonpublic schools that receive federal funding, to provide students with information on the rights afforded under Title IX, and to provide contact information for the Title IX coordinator. The bill also requires the commissioner of education to annually disseminate through electronic means a letter to each public school, and to each nonpublic school that receives federal funds and is subject to the requirements of Title IX, informing the school of the rights afforded to a student and the responsibilities of the school under Title IX. The Committee voted favorably to advance the bill 7-0. NJPSA supported this bill.
Reporting of COVID funds
A-2067 sponsored by Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt, Assemblywoman Mila M. Jasey, and Assemblyman Ralph R. Caputo requires the NJDOE to annually report to the governor and Legislature the amount of federal aid related to COVID relief it receives and distributes to districts as well as the purposes for which grant funds were used by these districts. Additionally, NJDOE would submit a final report regarding the expenditure of federal grant funds received to address the impact of COVID-19 on public education no later than six months following the complete exhaustion of funds by recipient school districts. The Committee voted favorably to advance the bill 7-0. NJPSA supported this bill.
AJR-59 sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, Assemblyman Benjie E. Wimberly, and Assemblywoman Shavonda E. Sumter designates February 28 of each year as “Amistad Day” throughout the State of New Jersey in recognition of the importance of the Amistad case to the American abolitionist movement and to the causes of liberty and equality throughout the world. The committee voted unanimously in favor of this bill 7-0. NJPSA supports this legislation.