Tabitha’s Law another step closer to passage

TRENTON – Senate lawmakers unanimously released Tabitha’s Law from committee today.

The bill, A1902/S721, requires parents to notify school administrators whenever their child will be absent from school, and requires administrators to contact parents whenever a pupil is absent without the parents having provided prior notice.

The bill was released from the Senate Education Committee.

Assembly lawmakers approved the proposal on the Assembly floor in June.

The bill is named for 13-year-old Nashville student Tabitha Tudor who didn’t show up for school on April 29, 2003. The school, which had not received any notice she would not attend school, did not contact the parents. Almost a full day was lost before a search began, and to this day the girl has not been found.

The committee also released several other bills:

S64, would establish measures to deter steroid use among students.

S1912, the Scholastic Student-Athlete Safety Act, would establish measures to ensure health of student athletes. The proposal would require all public and nonpublic high school children in grades six to 12 to have medical examinations prior to participating on school-sponsored athletic teams.

Current state regulations require school districts to ensure that students in grades six to 12 have a medical examination prior to participation in school-sponsored athletics, with the findings of the examination documented on a form approved by the commissioner of education, according to the bill.

The proposal would require a medical exam for students in both public and nonpublic schools who participate in athletics and would require schools to use the “Pre-participation Physical Evaluation” form developed by six major American medical societies.

Several medical doctors spoke in support of the legislation, as did a representative from the New Jersey Education Association, who said the agency supports the bill but suggested school nurses in the state may have some slight concerns.

S459 would prohibit students from participating in high school graduation ceremonies unless they have already completed all graduation requirements.

Tabitha’s Law another step closer to passage