ASSEMBLY EDUCATION COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

ASSEMBLY, No. 3738

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  MAY 11, 2015

 

      The Assembly Education Committee reports favorably Assembly Bill No. 3738 with committee amendments.

      As amended, this bill permits the Commissioner of Education to authorize the creation of three pilot recovery alternative high schools by either a school district or a county vocational school district, one each in the northern, central, and southern regions of the State.  A recovery alternative high school is defined as an alternative education program that serves students diagnosed with substance use disorder or dependency as defined by the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, and that provides a comprehensive four-year high school education in an alternative public school setting and a structured plan of recovery. 

      Under the bill’s provisions, the commissioner will issue a request for proposals to operate a pilot recovery alternative high school.  The proposals must detail how the district will satisfy the criteria for an alternative education program as set forth by the State Board of Education, and how the recovery alternative high school will satisfy the requirements for accreditation by the Association of Recovery Schools.  A pilot recovery alternative high school will be authorized for not more than four years.  Annually, the district which has established a pilot recovery alternative high school, in consultation with the high school, will submit to the Commissioner of Education an analysis of the high school’s educational outcomes including, but not limited to, student graduation rates, retention rates, course performance, and performance on the State assessments.

      A sending district may enter into an agreement with a district with a recovery alternative high school in order to provide services to a student who is currently enrolled in the sending district.  In order to refer the student to a recovery alternative high school, the student must be recommended by a certified alcohol and drug counselor and by the board of education of the sending district because the student would benefit academically and clinically from placement in the alternative education program.  The sending district must pay tuition to the district with the recovery alternative high school for any of the sending district’s students admitted to the high school.

      The committee amended to the bill to:

·       change references throughout the bill to read “recovery alternative high school” rather than “recovery high school”;

·       clarify that a recovery alternative high school means an alternative public school providing an alternative education program as that term is defined in State Board of Education regulations at N.J.A.C.6A:16-1.3;

·       provide that in addition to the recommendation of the alcohol and drug counselor, the recommendation of the sending district’s board of education will also be required in order to refer a student for enrollment in the recovery alternative high school;

·       expand the number of recovery alternative high schools from one to three, with one to be located in the northern, one in the central, and one in the southern region of the State;

·       require that the request for proposals for the operation of a recovery alternative high school detail how the district will satisfy the State board’s criteria for an alternative education program, and how the school will satisfy accreditation requirements by the Association of Recovery Schools;

·       limit how long a pilot recovery alternative high school will be authorized to operate to a period of no more than four years;

·       require that the report which must be submitted to the Commissioner of Education on the educational outcomes of students attending a recovery alternative high school be submitted on an annual basis; and

·       alter the calculation of the payment to be made by the sending district to the district with the recovery alternative high school for a student attending the recovery alternative high school. Under the amendment, the board of education of the district with a recovery alternative high school would determine a rate of tuition in an amount not in excess of the actual cost per pupil under rules prescribed by the commissioner and approved by the State board.