(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Paul Moriarty, Ralph Caputo and Joann Downey to extend anti-nepotism rules to the state’s public and charter schools was approved Thursday by the General Assembly.

“Property taxpayers deserve every assurance that the people charged with educating their children attained their positions because of what they know, not who they know,” said Moriarty (D- Camden/Gloucester).  “With schools making up the majority of local property tax bills, we need to ensure that we are investing in the absolute best candidates to lead our schools.”

The bill (A-557) would direct boards of education of school districts and county vocational school districts to adopt and implement a nepotism policy. The adoption of such a policy would be a condition for the receipt of state aid.

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“This is common sense,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “Most of our property tax money goes toward education, so our education system needs to be protected against nepotism.”

           “Prohibitions against nepotism in state government are already on the books,” said Downey (D-Monmouth). “Extending that statutory umbrella to cover schools as well is a logical next step.”

            The nepotism policy must include, but need not be limited to, the following:

§  A provision prohibiting any relative of a school board member or chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney or director of personnel from being employed in any office or position in the district.  However, such a person employed by the district on the effective date of the policy or the date a relative becomes a school board member or administrator will not be prohibited from continuing to be employed in his current position or, in the case of a reduction in force, in any position to which the person has a legal entitlement.  The policy may also provide that the district may seek approval from the executive county superintendent of schools to promote such an existing employee under certain circumstances;

§  A provision prohibiting a chief school administrator from recommending to the school board any relative of a school board member or chief school administrator, school business administrator, school board attorney, or director of personnel.

§  A provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the bargaining unit from discussing or voting on the proposed collective bargaining agreement with that unit or from participating in any way in negotiations;

§  A provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the same statewide union from participating in any way in negotiations prior to the school board attaining a tentative memorandum of agreement with the bargaining unit; and

§  A provision prohibiting a district administrator who has a relative who is a member of the same statewide union in another district from participating in anyway in negotiations.

            The bill also directs the board of trustees of a charter school to adopt and implement a nepotism policy.  The policy adopted by a board of trustees must incorporate the above provisions and will be applicable to members of the board and to charter school administrators.

            The bill was approved 73-0 by the Assembly and now heads to the Senate for further consideration.