Sunday Leftovers

There's 4,800 school board members in NJ but only 2,122 have complied with the new law requiring criminal background checks, reports NJ Spotlight. And, according to NJ School Boards Association, “The New Jersey Department of Education considers any board member who has not yet scheduled an appointment for fingerprinting under the recent board-member criminal background check law to be in non-compliance with the statute, and it will inform them that they cannot continue to serve on a board of education.”

The Record reports that many NJ districts will see substantial drops in their graduation rates when School Report Cards come out this winter. The reason for the drop is a new mandate from the U.S. DOE, which requires that all states report graduation rates in the same way, using “the number of students who graduate on time, divided by the number who entered high school four years earlier, with adjustments for transfers.”

New Jersey Newsroom reviews Thursday’s Senate Education Committee session (NJ Spotlight coverage here) where two bills were discussed, one that would create more accountability for charters and another (A 3582) that would require voter approval for new charters. Assemblywoman Mila Jasey spoke strongly in favor of both bills, particularly the latter. A 3582 is co-sponsored by Assembly Education Chairman Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D-Middlesex), and Assemblymen Peter Barnes III (D-Middlesex), John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), Ralph Caputo (D-Essex), and Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer). All six legislators were endorsed by NJEA.

The Press of Atlantic City looks at participants in the Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which allows kids to cross district lines to attend other public schools. For example, Hammonton High School has enrolled 40 freshman and sophomores from other districts.

West-Windsor Plainsboro, South Brunswick, and Princeton Public Schools have been sued by Princeton International Academy Charter School. According to the Trenton Times, “In a lawsuit filed in August, PIACS contends the public school districts from which the charter school would draw students have obstructed its efforts to open — wasting taxpayers’ money that was intended for the education of children — to pay for consultants and lawyers to block plans for the school.”

Trenton Public Schools is looking for a new superintendent after Interim Raymond Broach confirmed to The Trenton Times that he wasn’t interested in a permanent position. Broach brought some stability to the district after the troubled reign of Rodney Lofton, who left suddenly last year.

The challenges pile up at Willingboro Public Schools, poor neighbor to Moorestown, which is a mere 9 miles away. Now the district has announced that Willingboro High School, closed for ongoing mold problems, will remain closed for at least another month. Currently students are attending half-day sessions at Levitt School.

The Courier Post documents the difficulties school districts face in implementing HIB, the Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying legislation.

The Record looks at the link between the “parent empowerment movement” (exemplified in Parent Trigger laws, that allow a majority of parents to vote out a chronically failing school in favor of a charter) and education reform. The dynamics of this empowerment often put parents at odds with teacher union officials.

Unions have mobilized against parent-trigger laws. In July, the American Federation of Teachers posted a slide presentation on its website detailing how it successfully won a dilution of the Connecticut parent-trigger proposal so parents can recommend change but have no authority to enact it.

After ensuing media coverage of "Plan A: Kill Mode," the union took down the document and disavowed it.