Aiming to ensure fairness in hiring at New Jersey schools, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Ralph Caputo and Joann Downey to extend anti-nepotism rules in the state’s public and charter schools was approved Monday by the full Assembly, 75-0-5.
“Property taxpayers deserve every assurance that the people charged with educating their children attained their positions because of what they know, not who they know,” said Moriarty (D- Camden/Gloucester). “With schools making up the majority of local property tax bills, we need to ensure that we are investing in the absolute best candidates to lead our schools.”
The bill (A-557) would direct boards of education of school districts and county vocational school districts to adopt and implement a nepotism policy. The adoption of such a policy would be a condition for the receipt of state aid.
The measure also directs the board of trustees of a charter school to adopt and implement a nepotism policy, which would be applicable to members of the board and to charter school administrators.
“This is common sense,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “Most of our property tax money goes toward education, so our education system needs to be protected against nepotism.”
“Prohibitions against nepotism in state government are already on the books,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Extending that statutory umbrella to cover schools as well is a logical next step.”
The nepotism policy would need to include, but not be limited to:
· a provision prohibiting any relative of a school board member or chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel from being employed in any office or position in the district. However, they would not be prohibited from continuing to be employed or from being promoted, or, in the case of a reduction in force, employed in any position to which the person has a legal entitlement. a district may employ such a relative if the district obtains the approval of the executive county superintendent of who may only grant the approval upon a demonstration by the district that it conducted a thorough search for candidates and that the proposed candidate is the only qualified and available person for the position;
· a provision prohibiting a chief school administrator from recommending to the school board any relative of a school board member, chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel unless approved by executive county superintendent.
· a provision prohibiting a district administrator including a director of personnel, or a school board attorney from exercising direct or indirect authority, supervision, or control over a relative.
· a provision prohibiting a district administrator including a director of personnel, or a school board attorney, or a board member, who has a relative who is a member of the bargaining unit from discussing or voting on the proposed collective bargaining agreement with that unit or from participating in any way in negotiations. The administrator, including the director of personnel, or the school board attorney may provide technical information necessary to the collective bargaining process when no one else in the district can provide such information; and
· a provision providing that if a school board member, chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel resigns or ceases to be employed by the school district, and his relative becomes employed in an office or position in the school district within the three months following the resignation or cessation of employment, then the school board member, chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel may not be employed by the district for a period of 12 months from his last date of service or employment.
The measure was approved to concur with the Governor’s recommendations which add certain provisions to mirror existing regulations and make various technical changes to ensure consistency with those regulations.
The bill now heads to the Senate for further consideration.