SCHOOL HEALTH AND SAFETY
Children cannot learn in environments where their health and safety are threatened. More than a decade ago, the Department of Education developed the Safe Schools Initiative to offer assistance and guidance to local schools in their efforts to be as safe as possible for students. Students cannot be expected to achieve at their highest levels if they feel unsafe in their school environment or if they are using harmful substances in their daily lives. To assure safety for students, it is especially important to have parental support and involvement in schools to assist school personnel with problems that often originate in homes or communities.
The department annually produces the report entitled Violence, Vandalism, and Substance Abuse in New Jersey Schools from electronic records submitted by each school district. The required report to the Legislature describes the many ways that DOE provides assistance to schools. Parents can check with local school districts to assure that their children’s schools are taking advantage of all resources available from DOE.
The mandate for safe schools also is contained in the federal No Child Left Behind Act. States are required annually to identify “persistently dangerous” schools. Parents with children in any school classified as persistently dangerous are entitled to choose an alternate school assignment for their child. Under the same law, any student who has been the victim of a violent criminal offense while on the premises of the public school he/she attends can be transferred at the request of parents to another location within the district.
In the area of student health, there are numerous professionals, including school physicians, certified nurses and other trained specialists, who support school health services depending on the needs of the school district . There are requirements in state law, as well as DOE regulations, that are designed to keep students healthy and to protect students and staff from infectious diseases and injury. Parents can contact the local certified school nurse to obtain information or address concerns about specific health services.