TRENTON – A bill that would permit students who are at risk due to domestic violence or sexual abuse to retain enrollment in a school district even if they have to move elsewhere will be before the Senate Budget Committee next week.
S1438 would mandate that if a child moves out of a district due to a family crisis such as domestic violence then that child must have the option of remaining enrolled in the district until the end of the school year.
Under such circumstances, the district would be responsible for providing transportation for that child, and the state would be responsible for reimbursing the costs to the district.
Under the boundaries set out in the bill, an elementary school student would have to be more than two miles from the school, and a secondary school student would have to be more than two and a half miles from the school.
The Assembly version, A735, passed overwhelmingly earlier this year, 74-1-1.
This bill, in various incarnations and with different sponsors, dates back to 2003 but often stalled without even getting a committee hearing.
Allen believes the bill is long overdue.
She said that the bill helps “so that children aren’t totally penalized by something they had nothing to do with..
“If a child is in a crisis situation, and we pull them away from any kind of secure network, it makes their life so much more difficult.”
Allen said that, for example, in her district in Burlington County, it is not unusual for a child to be relocated with a parent to a shelter.
“Their lives are totally turned upside down. Now they’re in a shelter where they don’t know anybody, and when they don’t know anybody in the school, it just makes the problem so much worse.”
This bill would permit the student to remain in their original district for the rest of that school year, affording them some degree of normality.
By limiting it to the rest of that school year, the transportation costs for that district are mitigated somewhat, she said.