(TRENTON) – Continuing efforts to better prepare New Jersey schools for security threats, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Lisa Swain, Christopher Tully and Mila Jasey to provide substitute staff and extracurricular personnel with school safety and security training was approved on Thursday by the full Assembly by a vote of 76-0.
“As threats to school security arise seemingly every day across the country, it’s absolutely vital that we make sure the staff caring for our children each day is well trained and prepared for emergencies,” said Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic). “By expanding training efforts to include more staff, we better equip our schools to handle threats and keep our students safe.”
The bill (A-4151) expands current law to include substitute faculty and staff who supervise youth in before and after school programs in the school building among those who receive training on school security and safety. Under current law, all full-time employees in the district or nonpublic school receive training.
“It is vital to maintain a safe school environment, and part of that responsibility falls to substitute teachers and extracurricular or youth program staff,” said Tully (D-Bergen, Passaic). “Parents can take comfort in knowing these staff members are as trained as their full-time colleagues to address emergency situations.”
“Emergencies can happen any time at school, including when a student has a substitute teacher or is staying after school for an activity,” said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). “We can’t prevent security threats, but we can certainly prepare for them. With this bill, more staff in our school buildings will be better prepared for emergency scenarios before, during and after class.”
Individuals employed in a substitute capacity at a time when training is being provided to full-time employees would be included in the session.
Staff who oversee before or after school programs, including those that take place on the weekend or during a period when school is not in session, would receive information about school practices and emergency procedures in effect in the school building where the program is located. The organization leading the program would file a statement of assurance annually with the superintendent of the district or chief school administrator of the nonpublic school that it complied with training requirements prior to using the school building. The Commissioner of Education would be required to develop the statement of assurance.
The measure now heads to the Senate for further consideration.