State board of education administrative code



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STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION

ADMINISTRATIVE CODE


COMMENT/RESPONSE FORM
This comment and response form contains comments on draft regulations at the Proposal Level:
Topic: Managing for Equality and Equity Comment Period Ended: July 7, 2008

In Education

Code Citation: N.J.A.C. 6A:7 Level: Adoption Level

Division: District and School Completed by: Office of Equity and School

Improvement Choice
SUMMARY OF COMMENTS AND AGENCY RESPONSES
The following is a summary of the comments received. Each commenter is identified at the end of the comment by a number which corresponds to the following list:


  1. Michael A. Vrancik

New Jersey School Boards Association
1. Comment: Commenter suggests amending equal opportunity employment language in N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.8 to "more closely reflect the language in N.J.S.A. 10:5-12a concerning unlawful employment practices." (1)
Response: The department has proposed the readoption of N.J.A.C. 6A:7 without amendments for the sole purpose of maintaining the rules in order to avoid a regulatory lapse. This approach will provide the department with the time to assess current needs and thoroughly research potential amendments to enhance the value and impact of the rules. The department will take the commenter's suggestion under advisement in developing a new 6A:7. In the meantime, the department believes that the combined provisions of N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.8 and N.J.S.A. 10:5-12a offer sufficient protection in the area of employment.

Adoption Level

August 20, 2008

`

TO: Members, State Board of Education


FROM: Lucille E. Davy, Commissioner
SUBJECT: N.J.A.C. 6A:7: Managing for Equality and Equity in Education
REASON

FOR ACTION: Readoption without Amendments


SUNSET DATE: June 2, 2008
PROJECTED

SUNSET DATE: June 2, 2010


Summary

The Department of Education (Department) is proposing to readopt N.J.A.C. 6A:7, Managing for Equality and Equity in Education, without amendments, for the sole purpose of maintaining the rules in order to avoid a regulatory lapse. The current rules provide uniform criteria to guide local school districts in revising policies, programs, or practices that limit or deny equal educational opportunity in their schools. The rules also provide standards governing equality in educational programs to guarantee each student equal access to all educational programs, services and benefits of the district regardless of his or her race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status. The rules also provide an objective basis for evaluating a district’s progress toward equality in educational programs, and provide the basis for local boards of education to identify areas in which technical assistance may be needed. The rules impact students directly by affirming their basic rights to equitable treatment and services and a quality education.

However, racial and socioeconomic inequalities continue to plague schools and school districts in New Jersey. Ensuring equality and equity in education has been identified as a major goal of the department and, especially in light of recent significant decisions of the United States Supreme Court, it is vital for the department to have time to thoroughly research potential amendments to the rules. It is further imperative that the department have the time to engage the citizens of New Jersey in an ongoing dialogue about the issues to be addressed in the amended rules.
N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.1 Purpose

This section states that the purpose of the rules is to ensure that all students are provided equal access to educational programs and services. No changes are proposed at this time.


N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.2 Scope

This section states that the rules apply to all public schools, charter schools and licensed schools and agencies acting under contract to provide educational services to public school students. No changes are proposed at this time.


N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.3 Definitions

This section defines terms used in this chapter. No changes are proposed at this time.



N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.4 Responsibilities of the district board of education


This section establishes the requirement for district boards of education to develop and implement policies and plans that recognize and value diversity within the society, establish and assure equality in educational programs, and prohibit all forms of discrimination and harassment in the public schools on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status. The designation, qualifications and responsibilities of a staff member as the district’s affirmative action officer are clarified in this section. The section also establishes the requirement for a comprehensive equity plan, internal monitoring procedures to ensure compliance and timelines governing the implementation of the plan and specifies penalties for non-compliance. It also requires the annual submission of a report of equity-related progress.

No changes are proposed at this time.


N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.5 Affirmative Action Officer

This section requites the annual appointment of a district affirmative action officer and team, and describes the responsibilities assigned to these designees.

No changes are proposed at this time.

N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.6 Professional development


This section requires local boards of education to provide professional development training for all district personnel on a continuing basis to identify and resolve problems arising from prejudice. No changes are proposed at this time.

N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.7 Equality in school and classroom practices


This section assures the elimination of discrimination in course offerings and courses of study, in tests and assessment procedures, in guidance and counseling materials, and in the curricular, extra curricular and athletic programs of the district. The section requires boards of education to adopt courses of study, instructional materials and programs designed to eliminate discrimination and promote equity, equal opportunity and mutual respect among children of all races.

This section also specifies the criteria and conditions that constitute equality within the educational programs and practices of the schools, and extends protections and assurances to all students regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status.

No changes are proposed at this time.
N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.8 Equality in employment and contract practices

This section requires each local school district to identify and correct all employment policies and practices that limit the employment, assignment, promotion or retention of any person or group of persons on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status. In addition, local boards of education are prohibited from entering into contracts with individuals and organizations that discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, affectional or sexual orientation, gender, religion, disability or socioeconomic status.

No changes are proposed at this time.
N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.9 Accountability

The section requires each local board of education to comply with the requirements of this chapter regardless of the rules or regulations of any organization, club, athletic association or other league or group.

The original specific date for submission of a Comprehensive Equity Plan has been eliminated and the requirement has been changed to cover every year that the regulations are in effect.
N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.10 Appeals

This section describes how to resolve a dispute arising under these regulations.

No changes are proposed at this time.
SOCIAL IMPACT

The Managing for Equality and Equity in Education administrative code provides parents, students, district officials and the general public with a concise summary of the legal framework governing equity and problems associated with the student achievement gap in the public schools. As such, the rules identify discriminatory behaviors and define factors that constitute equity in an educational setting. The need for such rules is based in the historical context of racism in the United States that has had insidious and pervasive effects in the public schools. One such effect is the racial segregation of schools, with New Jersey being identified in a national study as having the fourth most segregated schools in the nation (Orfield, Gary 1999).

Despite the fact that, while much progress has been made over the past forty years to ameliorate the effects of personal, societal and institutional racism, inequalities remain. For example, in 1992 the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., was revised to add affectional or sexual orientation to the list of protected classes because of the increased level of discrimination on that basis. Other educational inequalities go well beyond race and are based on deeply held assumptions regarding gender, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, national origin and socioeconomic status. Assumptions, often unconscious to the individuals who hold them, may be implicit in educational practices, policies, materials and access to educational programs and funding in public schools. Such “invisible” biases directly influence the social and emotional well being of students, resulting in low academic achievement or disenfranchised students.

Eliminating personal and institutional prejudices in school communities and in society requires that discriminatory practices in an educational setting be explicitly defined and prohibited. By identifying prohibited practices, the proposed rules would heighten awareness to such invisible barriers and require school communities to examine and recognize the influence that their values, priorities and attitudes have upon student achievement. The Managing for Equality and Equity in Education rules provide school districts, parents, students and other citizens with a clear guide and mechanism for ensuring that all students have equal access to educational opportunity, that by narrowing the achievement gap all students have equal opportunity for learning and that the guidelines in NCLB are followed and implemented.


ECONOMIC IMPACT

It is anticipated that no additional expense was incurred by any public school as a result of the rules governing educational equity. Local school districts currently are required to implement the provisions proscribed in the proposed rules. The proposed rules specifically define discriminatory practices and address how these practices are to be corrected. They also define equal educational opportunity and specify how it is to be achieved. Local districts have the flexibility to choose methods that would result in no additional cost.


FEDERAL STANDARDS STATEMENT

The inclusion of "affectional or sexual orientation" as a protected class exceeds federal standards in this area. However, this protected class is included in the proposed regulations to ensure compliance with the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which was amended in 1992 to include "affectional or sexual orientation." Inclusion of this protected category will enable local boards of education to develop policies that protect students and staff from discrimination and harassment based on affectional or sexual orientation.


JOBS IMPACT STATEMENT

The New Jersey Department of Education anticipates that the proposed rules will have no impact upon the generation or loss of jobs in the State of New Jersey.


AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY IMPACT


The rules have no impact upon the agricultural industry in the State of New Jersey.


REGULATORY FLEXIBILITY ANALYSIS

The rules did not impose additional reporting, record keeping or other compliance requirements upon small businesses, as defined under the Regulatory Flexibility Act, N.J.S.A. 52:14B-16 et seq. Therefore, a regulatory flexibility analysis is not required. The rules impact local school districts and governmental entities responsible for the enforcement of the rules.



SMART GROWTH IMPACT

The rules did not impact the achievement of smart growth or the State Plan for Development or Redevelopment.


The full text of the rules proposed for adoption without amendment follows thus:


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