ASSEMBLY, No. 2352

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 4, 2016

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  VALERIE VAINIERI HUTTLE

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  ELIZABETH MAHER MUOIO

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

Assemblyman  TROY SINGLETON

District 7 (Burlington)

Assemblyman  RALPH R. CAPUTO

District 28 (Essex)

Assemblywoman  MILA M. JASEY

District 27 (Essex and Morris)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Wolfe and Assemblywoman Caride

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires Commissioner of Education to include data on chronic absenteeism and disciplinary suspensions on School Report Card and requires public schools to make certain efforts to combat chronic absenteeism.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning student attendance records, amending P.L.1995, c.235, and supplementing chapter 38 of the Title 18A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

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

 

     1.    Section 3 of P.L.1995, c.235 (C.18A:7E-3) is amended to read as follows:

     3.    Report cards issued pursuant to section 2 of this act shall include, but not be limited to, the following information for:

     a.     the school district and for each school within the district, as appropriate:

     (1)   results of the elementary assessment programs;

     (2)   results of the Early Warning Test;

     (3)   results of the High School Proficiency Test;

     (4)   daily attendance records for students and professional staff;

     (5)   student graduation and dropout rates;

     (6)   annual student scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test;

     (7)   total student enrollment, percentage of limited English proficient students, percentage of students in advanced placement courses, and any other school characteristics which the commissioner deems appropriate;

     (8)   instructional resources including teacher/student ratio, average class size and amount of instructional time per day, as calculated by formulas specified by the commissioner;

     (9)   a written narrative by the school principal or a designee which describes any special achievements, events, problems or initiatives of the school or district;

     (10)  data identifying the number and nature of all reports of harassment, intimidation, or bullying; [and]

     (11)  indicators of student career readiness;

     (12)    the number and percentage of students who were chronically absent, where chronically absent means a student’s attendance record includes a total number of absences, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and absences due to disciplinary actions, that meets or exceeds 10 percent of the total number of school days in the school year, or in the case of a student who enrolls in the school after the beginning of the school year, 10 percent of the total number of days from the date of enrollment until the end of the school year.  The calculation of “chronically absent” shall not include absences due to a student’s ongoing illness, medical, psychiatric, or other disability, provided that a physician or other medical professional provides written documentation confirming that the student’s condition requires absences beyond the number of days permitted by the school district’s policy.  It shall be the duty of the school to verify this information to ensure that these absences are not counted toward the school’s calculation of “chronically absent.  In the case of a county vocational school district, the calculation of “chronically absent” shall not include students enrolled in the county vocational school district on a shared-time basis”; and

     (13) the number and percentage of students who received a disciplinary suspension; and

     b.    the school district, as appropriate:

     (1)   per pupil expenditures and State aid ratio;

     (2)   percent of budget allocated for salaries and benefits of administrative personnel;

     (3)   percent of budget allocated for salaries and benefits of teachers;

     (4)   percentage increase over the previous year for salaries and benefits of administrative and instructional personnel;

     (5)   the number of administrative personnel and the ratio of administrative personnel to instructional personnel;

     (6)   a profile of the most recent graduating class concerning their educational or employment plans following graduation; and

     (7)   any other information which the commissioner deems appropriate.

     For the purposes of this section, the Commissioner of Education shall establish a uniform methodology for the reporting of the data concerning administrative personnel on a full-time equivalent basis.

(cf: P.L.2014, c.71)

 

     2.    (New section)  a.  As used in this section, “chronically absent” means a student’s attendance record includes a total number of absences, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and absences due to disciplinary actions, that meets or exceeds 10 percent of the total number of school days in the school year, or in the case of a student who enrolls in the school after the beginning of the school year, 10 percent of the total number of days from the date of enrollment until the end of the school year.  The calculation of “chronically absent” shall not include absences due to a student’s ongoing illness, medical, psychiatric, or other disability, provided that a physician or other medical professional provides written documentation confirming that the student’s condition requires absences beyond the number of days permitted by the school district’s policy.  It shall be the duty of the school to verify this information to ensure that these absences are not counted toward the school’s calculation of “chronically absent.”  In the case of a county vocational school district, the calculation of “chronically absent” shall not include students enrolled in the county vocational school district on a shared-time basis.

     b.    In the event that 10 percent or more of the students enrolled in a public school are chronically absent, the school shall convene a Chronic Absenteeism Coalition.  The coalition shall include at least one parent and one teacher from the school community, and such other members as determined by the principal of the school.  The purpose of the coalition shall be to regularly review and monitor school chronic absenteeism and develop a corrective action plan to improve absenteeism rates.  The coalition shall review school chronic absenteeism without examining individual student information.  In developing the corrective action plan, the coalition shall address how the school can:

     (1)   communicate clearly and often to parents on the importance of school attendance;

     (2)   establish contact with parents when children begin to show a pattern of absences;

     (3)   identify problems and barriers to school attendance and develop recommendations to address them; and

     (4)   foster positive school relationships with families.

The coalition shall annually present to the board of education its findings and recommendations until the percentage of the student body that is chronically absent falls below ten percent.

 

     3.    (New section)  The Commissioner of Education shall annually review the chronic absenteeism rates of each school and school district, as included on the School Report Cards issued pursuant to section 2 of P.L.1995, c.235 (C.18A:7E-2), and report on the rates to the State Board of Education. 

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

      This bill requires that, in the event that 10 percent or more of the students enrolled in a public school are chronically absent, the school must convene a Chronic Absenteeism Coalition. The coalition must include at least one parent and one teacher from the school community, and such other members as deemed appropriate by the principal.  The purpose of the coalition will be to regularly review and monitor school chronic absenteeism and develop a corrective action plan to improve absenteeism rates.  The coalition must annually present its findings and recommendations to the board of education until the percentage of the student body that is chronically absent falls below 10 percent.

     The bill also requires the Commissioner of Education to include on School Report Cards data on the number and percentage of students who were chronically absent and the number and percentage of students who received a disciplinary suspension.  The commissioner must annually review the chronic absenteeism rates of each school and school district and report on the rates to the State Board of Education.

     As used in the bill, “chronically absent” means a student’s attendance record includes a total number of absences, including excused absences, unexcused absences, and absences due to disciplinary actions, that meets or exceeds 10 percent of the total number of school days in the school year, or in the case of a student who enrolls in the school after the beginning of the school year, 10 percent of the total number of school days from the date of enrollment until the end of the school year.  The calculation of “chronically absent” does not include absences due to a student’s ongoing illness, medical, psychiatric, or other disability, provided that a physician or other medical professional provides written documentation confirming that the student’s condition requires absences beyond the number of days permitted by the school district’s policy.  The bill also stipulates that in the case of a county vocational school district, the calculation of “chronically absent” will not include students who are enrolled in the county vocational district on a shared-time basis.