legupdateA bill, S-2058, that authorizes the creation of a pilot high school that would serve students who are recovering from substance dependency passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Feb. 9.

S-2058 would authorize the state education commissioner to create three alternative recovery high schools that would be open to students who are both “clinically and academically appropriate for referral by the student’s home district.” Participation would be voluntary, according to the bill. A report on the effectiveness of the programs, including graduation rate, scholastic performance and performance on state assessment tests, would be submitted annually.

If the student is admitted to the recovery high school, the sending district would provide a per-pupil payment to the school that includes both state aid and local tax levy.  Any federal funds directly attributable to the student would also be forwarded to the recovery high school. These payments would be made for a student who is currently enrolled in the district or resides in the municipality in which the district is located; is considered by a certified alcohol and drug counselor to be clinically appropriate; and meets all matriculation criteria as outlined by the sending district and the New Jersey Department of Education.

The sending district would ensure that upon completion of all graduation requirements a student admitted to the recovery high school will receive a state-endorsed high school diploma.

In Union County, Prevention Links, a substance dependency non-profit, opened a Recovery School in September at Kean University as part of the Union County Vocational School System. The school is named after Sen. Raymond Lesniak in recognition of his active leadership on the issue. The recovery school became a possibility because of the cooperation of district superintendents who understand that children addicted to alcohol or drugs need a safe haven to recover from their addiction and to also get a thorough and efficient education.

New Jersey School Boards Association supports this bill.

Epinephrine Bill Signed into Law  On Feb. 5, Gov. Chris Christie signed S-801/A-304, which requires schools to maintain a supply of epinephrine and permits school nurses or a trained designee to administer epinephrine to any student having an anaphylactic reaction. Receiving an immediate dose of injectable epinephrine for anaphylaxis can be a life-saving measure. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies, which can lead to severe and potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, result in more than 300,000 ambulatory care visits a year among children younger than 18 years old.