TRENTON – The Senate approved legislation sponsored by Senator Vin Gopal and Senator Jean Stanfield that further supports New Jersey’s military-connected families, specifically by recognizing schools that place emphasis on assisting children of active duty military and helping families to more easily navigate the often difficult educational path for military dependents and spouses.
This bill, S-1800, would create a “Purple Star Schools” Program to annually recognize, as Purple Star Schools, schools that provide for, or have made significant progress to respond to, the educational and social-emotional challenges military-connected students encounter during the transition to a new school when the student’s active-duty military parent or guardian is relocated. The bill would also create a working group to develop criteria to be used in the designation of schools as Purple Star Schools.
“The uncertainty that often accompanies military life can make the continuity of education, from one semester to another, from one school to another, and one state to another, a source of deep anxiety for both spouses and children of those who have answered the call to military service,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth).
Under the bill, a Purple Star School would be designated as such if it provides programs and services that include, but need not be limited to, the following:
- training for faculty and staff members to ease entry into the new school environment for military-connected students;
- student-led programs to help create social connections, including an emphasis on programs for students who arrive mid-year and miss out on the normal cycles of sports and club activities;
- a military family webpage on the school website to inform parents and guardians about programs and services;
- relevant professional development opportunities for additional school staff; and
- holding school-wide military recognition events that raise awareness and recognize the value of military service.
“Purple Star Schools can serve as models to other schools as to how to implement positive and impactful programs that make those necessary transitions less disruptive so that all students can succeed, despite changes that may be occurring at home,” added Senator Gopal.
The broader goal of the programs and services would be to ensure that staff can help manage the challenges military-connected students encounter when they move between schools with different cultures, curricula, standards, course offerings, schedules, and graduation requirements.
According to the Military State Policy Source, 29 states have enacted “Purple Star Schools Programs” to recognize the efforts of schools to assist incoming military-connected students, including Connecticut, Delaware, and Virginia
The legislation was voted out of the Senate by a vote 36-0.