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Senate Approves Turner Measure Streamlining Education Appeals Process

TRENTON – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Shirley K. Turner aimed at streamlining the appeal process by which local educators and school districts can challenge decisions made by the Department of Education by eliminating appeals to the State Board of Education.

“We’ve reached a point in New Jersey where we need to find ways to make government at all levels more efficient and less costly to taxpayers,” said Senator Turner, D-Mercer. “Having the State Board of Education act as the primary arbiter for appeals of any decision made by the Commissioner of Education has become increasingly inefficient in recent years and the appellate courts can be just as effective.”

Senator Turner’s bill, S-1912, would eliminate the role of the State Board of Education in the appeal of decisions made by the Commissioner of Education in disputes that arise under the State’s school laws. Under current law, the Commisioner of Education hears and decides controversies and disputes that arise from State school laws. These decisions may then be appealed to the State Board of Education, whose decision may subsequently be appealed to New Jersey’s Appellate Courts.

According to the Department of Education, 90 decisions made by the Commissioner in 2005 and 2006 were appealed to the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education overturned only eight of those decisions, a rate of about 9%.

“Given the extraordinarily high rate of agreement between the State Board of Education and the Commissioner in these appeals, it seems like a waste of government resources and taxpayer money to continue with the current system. Let’s just skip the middle man and have appeals go directly to the court,” added Senator Turner.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 22-12 and now goes to the Assembly for their consideration.

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