The State Board of Education recognized the nation’s new superintendent of the year – Somerville’s Dr. Timothy Purnell – and took action on a variety of items, at its September meeting in Trenton.

Purnell, who was recently named National Superintendent of the Year by the National Association of School Superintendents, gave a presentation on various activities related to student achievement in the Somerville (Somerset County) School District, including getting business and community leaders more involved in their local districts. The superintendent also spoke about his district’s blended learning program, which is a combination of classroom and online learning for students who do not do as well solely in traditional classroom settings.

In addition to recognizing Purnell, the board heard the following updates and took action on the following items:

  • National PTA membership Month—The State Board recognized October 2016 as National Parent Teacher Association membership month. The New Jersey PTA, which has existed for over 115 years, has more than 120,000 members in 650 local chapters across the state.
  • NJ Tiered System of Supports—The board also heard a presentation on the N.J. Tiered System of Supports, (NJTSS) which is a response-to-intervention program. NJTSS is an evidence-based framework for implementing academic and behavioral supports and interventions to improve achievement for all students. This initiative builds on other existing state initiatives including requirements for Intervention and Referral Services, Positive Behavior Supports in Schools and the Connected Action Road Map. Greater investment in effective response-to-intervention programs was one of the key recommendations of NJSBA’s 2014 Task Force on Special Education. Staff from the Old Bridge School District also presented on their district program to provide tiered supports.
  • Regulatory Relief—The State Board began discussing a proposal to repeal or amend several regulatory provisions that are either unnecessary or duplicative. This proposal further advances the goals of deregulation established in the September 2012 Education Transformation Task Force (ETTF) report, including the removal of duplicative regulations that distract school administrators and educators from the primary responsibility of student learning. Among the rules that are scheduled for repeal are those that are stated elsewhere in statute or other regulations. These include duplicative regulations concerning teacher tenure and seniority when a local district is withdrawing from a regional district, as well as duplicative regulations on the requirements for districts to have student guidance programs. This proposal focuses on regulatory provisions that either restate rules that are stated elsewhere in Title 6A of Administrative Code, or that are outdated and no longer applicable to any regulated party. Removing the unnecessary provisions will streamline the Administrative Code and make it easier for school districts to review regulatory requirements that are pertinent to teaching and learning.
  • Certification of School Districts–Eleven districts scored 80 percent or above in all five QSAC areas and were approved for a period of three years. Sixteen districts scored below 80 percent in one or more QSAC areas and will continue to implement QSAC improvement plans to address deficient indicators.
  • Interstate Reciprocity – The State Board approved its continued participation in the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification reciprocity agreement. This organization runs a searchable clearinghouse of educators who have had their professional educator certificates/licenses annulled, denied, suspended, revoked, or otherwise invalidated. Access to this clearinghouse helps NJDOE officials know whether any formal action has been taken against the license of an out-of-state teacher who is applying for New Jersey teaching credentials. The access to the clearinghouse is good for five years.
  • Student Transportation – The State Board approved the publication of a proposal concerning regulations required pursuant to “Abigail’s Law,” which requires that all newly-manufactured school buses be equipped with sensors to alert a bus driver when a child walks in front of or behind the bus, beginning with school buses manufactured on or after July 17, 2016.
  • Federal Unsafe Schools Option – The Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as reauthorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, sets forth that each state receiving federal education funds shall establish and implement a statewide policy requiring that a student attending a persistently dangerous public elementary school or secondary school, while in or on the grounds of a public elementary school or secondary school that the student attends, be allowed to attend a safe public elementary school or secondary school within the local educational agency, including a public charter school. First enacted in 2003, the NJDOE is proposing minor changes to its policy for the 2016-2017 school year.
  • Fiscal Accountability and Budgeting Procedures — The State Board has begun its review process of the regulations that provide for fiscal accountability, financial accounting and recordkeeping, calculation of tuition for public schools and private schools for students with disabilities (PSSDs), residency determinations, and the financial operations of charter schools.  The State Board is proposing only minor changes. This regulatory package does not include the chief school administrator salary caps.
  • Appointments—In addition, the State Board approved the following appointments within the Department:
    • Joshua Koen, Chief Innovation Officer
    • Anthony Fitzpatrick, Director, Office of School Innovation
    • Amanda Schultz, Director, Office of Budget
    • Joseph Vitelli, Director, Office of Administration
    • Karin Garver, Deputy Chief Academic Officer
  • State Board of Examiners—The State Board approved the reappointments of the following individuals to the State Board of Examiners:
    • Dr. Jonathan Dauber,. High School Principal, West Windsor – Plainsboro Public Schools
    • Dr. Timothy J. Purnell, Superintendent, Somerville Public Schools
    • Ms. Kristin Hennessy. Teacher. Brielle School District

The State Board of Examiners is the educator licensing agency in New Jersey. It issues all certificates that are required for public school employment. Individuals must hold the appropriate New Jersey certification in order to be employed as teaching staff members in the public schools of this state. The State Board of Examiners renders decisions on various cases which include, but are not limited to, decisions to revoke or suspend an educator’s certificate; appeals of decisions of the Office of Certification and Induction; and review of applications from individuals who have a criminal record.