By ERIN ROLL
New Jersey has passed a law that would allow school districts to require students to carry their IDs with them at all times while traveling to school-sponsored events. School officials will also compile a list of students traveling on buses to off-campus events, in the event of an emergency.
The law takes effect 90 days from its signing on April 3, which means it would apply to the 2019-2020 school year.
An impetus for the bill was in light of an accident involving a school bus from Paramus on its way to Mount Olive on a field trip in May 2018. A 10-year-old girl and a teacher were killed in that accident, and many of the students and adults on the bus were injured.
Montclair High School is the only school in the district that issues identification cards to students. Students are currently required to have the IDs on them at all times while they are on school property, and students are required to present their IDs in order to be admitted to certain school-sponsored events, like school dances, or for transportation provided by the district, including school buses.
Superintendent Kendra Johnson said the district would work to make sure it was in compliance with the law before it officially took effect, but had no other comment Monday.
The bill had the backing of multiple legislators, including Assembly members P. Christopher Tully and Lisa Swain, whose districts include Paramus. The bill was one of several school bus-related bills introduced following the May 2018 crash. New Jersey will now also require new school buses to have three-point shoulder belts installed.
An earlier version of the bill would have required school districts to put the new policies in place.
The version that was signed into law would allow school districts to put in policies governing ID cards and school bus lists if they saw fit, but did not make it mandatory.
Gov. Phil Murphy vetoed an earlier version of the bill for this reason, saying that requiring districts to provide IDs to every student without providing extra resources to districts could be a financial burden.
“I am advised by the attorney general, however that the broad and mandatory nature of the provisions of this bill could be subject to a successful unfunded-mandate challenge because the legislation does not authorize resources to offset the additional direct expenditures for affected school districts to implement its detailed provisions concerning issuance of school identification cards. Here, there is no cost estimate accompanying this bill, nor have any resources been provided to pay for the initial and annual costs associated with the various policies and requirements set forth in the bill,” he wrote.