ASSEMBLY, No. 3344

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED OCTOBER 7, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  JOHN F. MCKEON

District 27 (Essex)

Assemblywoman  MILA M. JASEY

District 27 (Essex)

Assemblyman  JOSEPH CRYAN

District 20 (Union)

Assemblywoman  SHEILA Y. OLIVER

District 34 (Essex and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman N.Munoz

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Permits high performing school districts to be monitored by the DOE under the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJ QSAC) every seven years rather than every three years.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum and amending P.L.1975, c.212.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  Section 11 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-11) is amended to read as follows:

     11.  Each school district and county vocational school district shall make a report of its progress in complying with all of the quality performance indicators adopted pursuant to section 10 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-10) every three years, or seven years for high performing districts as defined in section 14 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-14), pursuant to a schedule to be established by the commissioner.  In the years intervening between the district's [three-year] review, whenever the commissioner determines that conditions exist in a district that significantly and negatively impact the educational program or operations of the district, the commissioner may direct that the department immediately conduct a comprehensive review of the district.  Nothing in this section shall preclude the commissioner, in his discretion, from conducting a random review of a school district to assess the district's compliance with the quality performance indicators.

     The district reports shall be submitted to the commissioner on a date and in such form as prescribed by the commissioner, who shall make them the basis for an annual report to the Governor and the Legislature, describing the condition of education in New Jersey, the efforts of New Jersey schools in meeting the standards of a thorough and efficient education, the steps underway to correct deficiencies in school performance, and the progress of New Jersey schools in comparison to other state education systems in the United States.

(cf: P.L.2007, c.16, s.3)

 

     2.  Section 14 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-14) is amended to read as follows:

     14. a. The commissioner shall review the results of the report submitted pursuant to sections 10 and 11 of P.L.1975, c.212 (C.18A:7A-10 and 18A:7A-11) and after examination of all relevant data, including student assessment data, determine where on the performance continuum the district shall be placed.  The commissioner, through collaboration, shall establish a mechanism for parent, school employee and community resident input into the review process.  If the commissioner finds that a school district or county vocational school district satisfies 80 percent to 100 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner shall issue to the district a letter of recognition designating the district as a high performing district, provided that the district has submitted to the department a statement of assurance which attests that the contents of the report are valid.  The commissioner shall recommend that the State board certify the school district for a period of [three] seven years as providing a thorough and efficient system of education, contingent on continued progress in meeting the quality performance indicators.

     b.    If a school district satisfies 50 percent to 79 percent of the quality performance indicators in any of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner shall require the district to develop an improvement plan to address the quality performance indicators with which the district has not complied and to increase district capacity through the provision of technical assistance and other measures designed to meet the district's needs.  The improvement plan shall be submitted to and approved by the commissioner.  In accordance with the improvement plan, the commissioner shall provide technical assistance to the district.  If necessary, the commissioner may authorize an in-depth evaluation of the district to determine the causes for the district's noncompliance with the quality performance indicators.

     The commissioner shall review the district's progress in implementing the improvement plan not less than every six months.  If the commissioner finds, based on those reviews, that after two years the district has not satisfied 80 to 100 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner may require the district to amend the improvement plan.  The amended plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.

     If a district effectively implements its improvement plan and is able to satisfy 80 to 100 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness through the interventions set forth in this subsection, the commissioner shall issue the district a letter of recognition designating the district as a high performing district.  The commissioner shall recommend that the State board certify the school district for a period of [three] seven years as providing a thorough and efficient system of education, contingent on continued progress in meeting the quality performance indicators.  If the district has not effectively implemented its improvement plan and has not satisfied 80 to 100 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness through the interventions set forth in this subsection, the commissioner shall issue the district a letter detailing the areas in which the district remains deficient.

     c. (1) If a school district satisfies less than 50 percent of the quality performance indicators in four or fewer of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner shall authorize an in-depth evaluation of the district's performance and capacity unless the commissioner determines that a comprehensive evaluation of the district by or directed by the department has occurred within the last year.  Based on the findings and recommendations of that evaluation, the district, in cooperation with the department, shall develop an improvement plan to address the quality performance indicators with which the district has not complied and to increase district capacity through the provision of technical assistance and other measures designed to meet the district's needs.  The improvement plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.  Upon approval, the commissioner shall provide the district with the technical assistance outlined in the plan and shall assure that the district's budget provides the resources necessary to implement the improvement plan.

     The commissioner shall review the district's progress in implementing the improvement plan not less than every six months.  The reviews shall include an on-site visit.  If the commissioner finds, based on those reviews, that after two years the district has not satisfied at least 50% of the quality performance indicators in each of the key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner may require the district to amend the improvement plan. The amended plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.

     Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prohibit the State board from directing the district to enter partial State intervention prior to the expiration of the two-year period.

     (2)   The district's improvement plan may include the appointment by the commissioner of one or more highly skilled professionals to provide technical assistance to the district in the areas in which it has failed to satisfy the quality performance indicators.  Each highly skilled professional shall work collaboratively with the district to increase local capacity in the areas of need identified in the improvement plan.  The cost for the compensation of the highly skilled professionals shall be a shared expense of the school district and the State, with the State assuming one-half of the cost and the school district being responsible for one-half of the cost.

     (3)   If the district satisfies less than 50% of the quality performance indicators in one to four of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner may also order the district board of education to show cause why an administrative order placing the district under partial State intervention should not be implemented.  The plenary hearing before a judge of the Office of Administrative Law pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), upon said order to show cause, shall be conducted on an expedited basis and in the manner prescribed by subdivision B of article 2 of chapter 6 of Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.  In the proceeding the State shall have the burden of showing that the recommended administrative order is not arbitrary, unreasonable or capricious.

     If, after a plenary hearing, the commissioner determines that it is necessary to take corrective action, the commissioner shall have the power to order necessary budgetary changes within the district or other measures the commissioner deems appropriate to establish a thorough and efficient system of education.

     If the board fails to show cause why an administrative order placing the district under partial State intervention should not be implemented, the commissioner shall recommend to the State board that it issue an order placing the district under partial State intervention. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary and upon its determining that the school district is not providing a thorough and efficient system of education, the State board may place the district under partial State intervention.  Nothing herein shall limit the right of any party to appeal the State board's order to the Superior Court, Appellate Division.

     (4)   If the position of superintendent of schools is vacant in a district under partial State intervention, the State board upon the recommendation of the commissioner may appoint a superintendent who shall serve for an initial period not to exceed two years.

     (5)   In addition to the highly skilled professionals appointed pursuant to paragraph (2) of this subsection to provide technical assistance to the district in implementing its improvement plan, the commissioner, in consultation with the local board of education, may appoint one or more highly skilled professionals in a district under partial State intervention to provide direct oversight in the district regarding the quality performance indicators with which the district has failed to comply.  The highly skilled professional shall represent the interests of the commissioner in all matters relating to the component of school district effectiveness that is under intervention and over which the highly skilled professional is providing direct oversight.  The powers and authorities of the highly skilled professional shall include, but not be limited to:

     (a)   overseeing the operations of the district in the area of intervention over which the highly skilled professional is assigned to provide direct oversight;

     (b)   ensuring the development and implementation of the district improvement plan with respect to the area over which the highly skilled professional is assigned to provide direct oversight;

     (c)   overriding a chief school administrator's action and a vote by the board of education regarding matters under direct oversight of the highly skilled professional;

     (d)   attending all meetings of the board of education, including closed sessions; and

     (e)   obligating district funds for matters relating to the area under State intervention over which the highly skilled professional is providing direct oversight.

     In the event that there is a need to hire, promote, or terminate employees working in the area of intervention over which the highly skilled professional is assigned to provide direct oversight, the hiring, promotion, and termination of those employees shall be determined by the State board upon the recommendation of the commissioner.

     The highly skilled professional shall work collaboratively with the superintendent, the board of education and the employees of the district working in the area of the oversight to address areas identified in the improvement plan.

     When the commissioner appoints more than one highly skilled professional in a district under partial State intervention, he shall delineate the scope and extent of authority of each highly skilled professional appointed and shall establish a decision-making hierarchy for the highly skilled professionals and personnel in the district.  The highly skilled professional shall report directly to the commissioner or his designee on a bi-weekly basis and shall report monthly to the board of education and members of the public at the regularly scheduled board of education meeting.  The salary of a highly skilled professional appointed pursuant to this paragraph shall be fixed by the commissioner and adjusted from time to time as the commissioner deems appropriate.  The cost of the salaries of the highly skilled professionals shall be a shared expense of the school district and the State, with the State assuming one-half of the cost and the school district being responsible for one-half of the cost.  For the purpose of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, N.J.S.59:1-1 et seq., the highly skilled professional appointed pursuant to this paragraph shall be considered a State officer.

     (6)   With the State board's approval the commissioner may appoint up to three additional members to the board of education of a district under partial State intervention.  The board of education's membership shall remain increased by these additional seats until the State withdraws from intervention.  If the commissioner appoints three additional members pursuant to this paragraph, the commissioner shall appoint one of these additional members from a list of three candidates provided by the local governing body of the municipality in which the school district is located.  The commissioner shall make every effort to appoint residents of the district.  A board member appointed by the commissioner shall be a nonvoting member of the board and shall have all the other rights, powers and privileges of a member of the board.  A board member appointed by the commissioner shall report to the commissioner on the activities of the board of education and shall provide assistance to the board of education on such matters as deemed appropriate by the commissioner, including, but not limited to, the applicable laws and regulations governing specific school board action.  A member appointed by the commissioner shall serve for a term of two years.  The commissioner shall obtain approval of the State board for any extension of the two-year term.  Any vacancy in the membership appointed by the commissioner shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.

     If a board of education is subject to additional appointments pursuant to section 67 of P.L.2002, c.43 (C.52:27BBB-63), then the provisions of this paragraph shall not be applicable during the period in which the board is subject to those appointments.

     Six months following the district being placed under partial State intervention, the commissioner shall determine whether or not the board members he has appointed shall become voting members of the board of education. If the commissioner determines that the board members he has appointed shall become voting members, the school district shall have 30 days to appeal the commissioner's determination to the State Board of Education.

     (7)   Based on the district's success in implementing its improvement plan, the commissioner shall make a determination to withdraw from intervention in one or more of the areas that have been under State intervention, to leave one or more areas under State intervention or to recommend to the State Board of Education that the district be placed under full State intervention.

     If the commissioner determines that the district has successfully implemented the improvement plan and achieved sufficient progress in satisfying the performance indicators in one or more areas under intervention, the State shall withdraw from intervention in the district in those areas.

     d.    (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2005, c.235.)

     e.     (1) If a school district satisfies less than 50 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner shall authorize an in-depth evaluation of the district's performance and capacity, unless the commissioner determines that a comprehensive evaluation of the district by or directed by the department has occurred within the last year.  Based on the findings and recommendations of that evaluation, the district, in cooperation with the department, shall develop an improvement plan to address the quality performance indicators with which the district has not complied and to increase district capacity through the provision of technical assistance and other measures designed to meet the district's needs.  The improvement plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.  Upon approval, the commissioner shall provide the district with the technical assistance outlined in the plan and shall assure that the district's budget provides the resources necessary to implement the improvement plan.

     The commissioner shall review the district's progress in implementing the improvement plan not less than every six months. The reviews shall include an on-site visit.  If the commissioner finds, based on those reviews, that after two years the district has not satisfied at least 50% of the quality performance indicators in each of the key components of school district effectiveness, the commissioner may require the district to amend the improvement plan. The amended plan shall be submitted to the commissioner for approval.

     Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prohibit the State board from directing the district to enter full State intervention prior to the expiration of the two-year period.

     (2)   The district's improvement plan may include the appointment by the commissioner of one or more highly skilled professionals to provide technical assistance to the district in the areas in which it has failed to satisfy the quality performance indicators. Each highly skilled professional shall work collaboratively with the district to increase local capacity in the areas of need identified in the improvement plan.  The cost for the compensation of the highly skilled professionals shall be a shared expense of the school district and the State, with the State assuming one-half of the cost and the school district being responsible for one-half of the cost. 

(cf: P.L.2007, c.16, s.4)

 

     3.  This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     Under the current school district monitoring system, the New Jersey Quality Single Accountability Continuum (NJ QSAC), every school district must submit a report every three years on its progress in complying with all of the quality performance indicators.  The quality performance indicators comprise standards for each of five key components of school district effectiveness – instruction and program; personnel; fiscal management; operations; and governance.  Based on a district’s compliance with the indicators, the Commissioner of Education assesses district capacity and effectiveness and places the district on a performance continuum that determines the type and level of oversight and technical assistance and support the district receives.  Districts that satisfy 80 percent to 100 percent of the quality performance indicators in each of the five key components of school district effectiveness are deemed “high performing districts.”

     This bill would permit high performing districts to submit the report every seven years, rather than every three.