Legislation sponsored by Assembly Members Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey to designate a school employee as a safety specialist was passed through the Assembly and Senate on Sunday, July 1.

The bill (A3765) would amend current law to allow any employee with safety experience to be designated as a school safety specialist.

Under current law, a school district administrator must designate a school administrator as a school safety specialist for the district. The safety specialist must complete the School Safety Specialist Certification Program developed by the New Jersey School Safety Specialist Academy in the Department of Education.

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“Our students deserve to feel safe in school,” said Assemblyman Houghtaling. “We have an obligation to ensure the most qualified and knowledgeable individual fills the role of school safety specialist, regardless of current title within the school. The safety of our students is far too important.”

“The safety of our students has become increasingly compromised due to the tragic reality of the ever-increasing number of school shootings across the country,” said Assemblywoman Downey. “In some districts, the most equipped individual may in fact be an administrator. In others, it may be a gym teacher, a history teacher or a math teacher, for example. We are opening the door for the best person to fill this vital position and removing arbitrary limitations to ensure the safety of our students.”

The school safety specialist will be responsible for the supervision and oversight for all school safety and security personnel, policies and procedures in the school district; ensure these policies and procedures are in compliance with State law and regulations; and provide the necessary training and resources to school district staff in matters relating to school safety.

The school safety specialist will also serve as the school district liaison with local law enforcement and national, State, and community agencies and organizations in matters of school safety and security.