Bill Would Criminalize Sexual Contact Between
Teachers and Students under Age 20
(TRENTON) – Continuing efforts to combat sexual assault between teachers and students, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, Pamela Lampitt, Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Valerie Vainieri Huttle and John Armato that would criminalize sexual contact between teachers and students under 20 years old has cleared the Legislature and now heads to the Governor for further consideration.
“We see countless cases of inappropriate student-teacher relationships nowadays, perhaps due to the fact that technology and social media have bridged the personal space that once existed between students and teachers,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Regardless, even when a high school student reaches the age of 18, a teacher’s supervisory power makes any sexual relationship inherently coercive and inappropriate. This bill will make that explicitly clear.”
“Even though an 18-year-old student is legally an adult, the power a teacher or other school employee holds over him or her makes any sexual relationship innately compulsory,” said Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington). “It’s never appropriate for a teacher to engage in any kind of sexual contact with a student, no matter their age. These teachers should be held accountable.”
The bill (A-1909) makes a person guilty of sexual assault if he or she commits an act involving the sexual penetration of a victim who is 18 years old or older and less than 20 years old, if the victim is a student in a school where the actor is a teaching staff member, substitute teacher, school bus driver, other school employee, contracted service provider or volunteer and has supervisory or disciplinary power over the victim.
The measure expands current law, under which a person with “supervisory or disciplinary power of any nature or in any capacity” over a minor at least 16 but less than 18 years old who commits an act of sexual penetration with that minor is guilty of sexual assault.
Sexual assault is a crime of the second degree and is typically punishable by a term of imprisonment of five to 10 years, or a fine of up to $150,000, or both.
“The number of improper instances between teenagers and teachers appears to be increasing,” said Chiaravalloti (D- Hudson). “Teachers, who are authority figures, need to understand that the power imbalance supersedes any ‘consent’ received by students and that such relations are inappropriate. We need to close this loophole to make that message clear.”
“By pursuing a sexual relationship with a student, a teacher has taken advantage of the power they hold over that student,” said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). “Whether that student is 16 or nearly 20, that behavior should not be tolerated in New Jersey.”
Under the bill, “teaching staff member” is defined under existing law as a member of the professional staff of any district or regional board of education, or any board of education of a county vocational school, holding office, position or employment of such character that the qualifications, for such office, position or employment, require him to hold a valid and effective standard, provisional or emergency certificate, appropriate to his office, position or employment, issued by the State Board of Examiners and includes a school nurse and a school athletic trainer.
“It’s my hope that this bill will bring justice for all students who have become victims of sexual assault by their teachers,” said Armato (D-Atlantic). “The safety and well-being of our students is our top priority.”
If enacted, New Jersey would join 10 other states – Alabama, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Washington – that have laws criminalizing sex between school employees and students over the age of 18.
The bill was approved by the Assembly in January, 76-0.
BAYONNE - This week the Bayonne Board of Education received notice that they will receive over $6.7 million from the New Jersey Department of Education that will allow them to offer full-day pre-k in September 2019. Last year, Bayonne received $3.4 million in state funding for pre-k. With limited space and funds, the Bayonne Board of Education had only 65 full-day pre-k students. Under the approved plan, Bayonne will potentially serve 585 students.
“Pre-K access has been linked to improved educational success later in life,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “But for too many in our state, access to pre-k has been defined by zip code and income level. Those days will soon be behind us. Our Administration is making strides in leveling the playing field for New Jersey’s children and we are proud to work with Senator Cunningham, Assemblyman Chiaravalloti, Assemblywoman McKnight, and Mayor Davis, to expand pre-k access for Bayonne’s children.”
“Behind every successful initiative like this one are real children and real families who benefit,” said Education Commissioner Lamont O. Repollet. “We know that high-quality preschool helps children build the readiness skills they need for success later on in school, and these foundational skills continue to pay dividends throughout a person’s life.”
“This is a potential game changer for the City of Bayonne. I commend Governor Murphy and Commissioner Repollet for their vision in making funding public education a priority in New Jersey,” stated Mayor James Davis. “In the past two years, Bayonne has seen significant increases in funding for our schools. Our dedicated team in Trenton, led by Senator Cunningham, Assemblyman Chiaravalloti and Assemblywoman McKnight, have delivered for Bayonne. On this issue, I know how passionate Nicholas was in assuring that Bayonne be able to provide full-day pre-k in 2019-2020.”
“We are excited about the opportunity this offers our parents and children. This award is the result of the efforts of the Cabinet and Early Childhood team at the Board of Education and Assemblyman Chiaravalloti. From the moment we discussed this possibility, Nicholas has made securing these funds his top priority,” stated Dr. Michael Wanko, Interim Superintendent.
“Data has shown that full-day pre-k impacts a child’s future academic success. Bayonne children now have the same opportunity as other children in New Jersey. Bringing Pre-K for all to Bayonne has been a major goal of mine since joining the Assembly in 2015. I am very thankful to Governor Murphy and Commissioner Repollet for their commitment to public education,”stated Assemblyman Chiaravalloti. “This is about the future of Bayonne. Extended-day preschool has dramatic and lasting effects when it is high quality. I congratulate the staff and leadership at the Board for responding to the challenge and preparing a superior application.”
Chiaravalloti, Spearman & Mosquera Statement on Assembly Approval of Measure to Include Anti-Hunger Programs on NJOneApp Resolution Heads to Governor’s Desk
(TRENTON) – Continuing efforts to combat hunger in New Jersey, Assembly Democrats Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D-Hudson), William Spearman (D-Camden/Gloucester) and Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester) released the following statement on their resolution (AJR-175) to urge the Chief Innovation Officer of the Office of Information Technology to enhance the NJOneApp to include all state anti-hunger programs. The measure received final legislative approval on Monday, passing the Assembly 75-0-5; it was approved by the Senate 34-0-6 last week.
“There are many resources available to New Jersey residents who are food insecure and suffering from severe hunger, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance to Need Families (TANF) and General Assistance through Work First New Jersey; but it remains a challenge to connect people to those vital services. That’s why improving the NJOneApp, which already offers a simple, convenient way for residents to see if they qualify for food assistance programs, is a crucial step towards ending hunger in New Jersey.
“Under this resolution, the NJOneApp will be redesigned to include all state anti-hunger programs. Users will be able to easily browse all the resources available to them and choose which will work best for their family. No longer will residents be unsure of where to turn, who to ask, or what help exists in New Jersey; the answers would be found at the touch of a button on their cell phone.
“We are pleased our Assembly colleagues have joined the fight against hunger by supporting this measure and we thank Speaker Coughlin for including it in his sweeping anti-hunger bill package. We look forward to taking the next step in helping families in need.”
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